nytheatre.com review by Jason S. Grossman
August 14, 2009
Be forewarned. The world Hatching explores is just out of reach. Will Porter has penned a shocking tale introducing a near apocalyptic existence in which healthcare is prohibitively expensive for all classes. Hospitals are more like prisons housing truly desperate patients who will do anything to procure medical treatment.
Mega-rich socialite Scarlett has a mysterious illness and checks herself in. She soon discovers that her only hope for treatment is to hatch an egg. Virtually incarcerated, she meets Fern, a slow-witted, partially unhinged young woman with an infected arm. The two gradually bond together as they do battle with a combative nursing staff and a band of creepy humming lepers that live down the hall.
This avant-garde production with farcical elements constantly takes the audience off guard. Director Amanda Thompson unleashes an animated production with appropriately chaotic elements. She furnishes the production with exaggerated, pronounced performances from a lively young cast. At times there is too much chaos; the actors occasionally yell their dialogue simultaneously, simply trying to be heard by being louder than the next.
All aspects of this production are outlandish and instances of physical comedy (detached limbs, for example) are imaginative. The chaos exposed emphasizes the epidemic that millions of Americans simply cannot afford the ever-escalating cost of healthcare.
Undoubtedly, the highlight of the production is a bizarre dream sequence admirable at the very least for its shear audacity. The direction and cast shine through here as they quickly shift from one scenario to another, eventually morphing into a tight, synchronized tap number.
There's no doubt that this is an energetic, enthusiastic cast performing multiple duties from pratfalls to dance. Kennedy Wiltshire is a definite highlight to this production; he is completely engulfed in the role of the pompous Scarlett, playing her with uncompromising dignity and respect. Britt Lower nicely downplays the role of Fern, offsetting Wiltshire's somewhat more grandiose performance. Spending virtually the entire duration of the play on stage together, the two actors display some nice chemistry as victims trapped in the same nightmarish boat.
Duane Pagano's dark (literally) lighting design is a very good choice helping to create the desperate, hellish world for which the script calls.
This show will most likely work well for those who like their theatre loud, outrageous, and somewhat abstract.