nytheatre.com review by Josh Sherman
February 10, 2008
Now I know how it feels to be a fortune hunter who has discovered a hidden gem.
Providence, the new jewel of a play by Cody Daigle, is a stunningly moving piece presented by Maieutic Theatre Works, now playing at the View Theatre at the Roy Arias Center. With flawless direction from Ian Crawford, exceptional performances from all four actors in this true ensemble piece, and exquisite production design, MTW has created an independent theater production of a quality that all small companies should aspire to one day mount.
Providence, to sum up what I can of the plot without giving away the beautiful surprises of Daigle's script, tells the story of two men, Mark Langer (Douglas Scott Sorensen) and Neil Grey (Anthony Crep), who are drawn together while looking for answers after a shared tragedy—Neil's wife Jo (Aly Wirth) and Mark's best friend Sara (Kathryn Ekblad) are both victims of a deadly plane crash destined for Providence, Rhode Island. Daigle paints a gorgeous, realistic portrait of Mark and Neil's forays into their massive grief, their stumbles in readjusting into the real world, their recognition of their own faults, and their ultimate acceptance to enter their new lives without their most loved "others."
Daigle's artistic voice is crystal clear, and is matched by Crawford's sharp vision of his work. The transitions between scenes as directed by Crawford are breathtakingly pin-point. There is not a word wasted in Daigle's script, which somehow manages to avoid being cloying or maudlin, despite the topics addressed. And there is not an intention not picked up and well-translated by the four outstanding actors in Providence. Truly, I have not seen an everyman character onstage played better in some time than Crep's portrayal of the distraught, broken Neil. Sorensen is equally terrific as the neurotic and nuanced Mark—and watching the two of them onstage is a clinic in teamwork. Wirth and Ekblad also shine brilliantly. The set design by Craig Napoliello is clean, crisp, and perfectly matched to the play. Same goes for the costume design from Angela Curcuru and the lighting design from Rebecca Makus: spot on. Even the running time is perfect—a brisk 80 minutes with a short intermission.
There is a universality to how people deal with loss every day—be it death of a loved one, death of a relationship, death of an idea, death of emotion—and work through it. Daigle has nailed every facet of coping with loss with humanity and grace. Even Daigle's choice to send the characters to Providence hints at a spiritual reckoning that occurs not only between Mark and Neil, but ultimately Sara and Jo as well.
Every emotion in Providence feels shockingly real. Each character has depth and is searching for answers and meaning, which draws the audience in as close as can be. The play reveals itself layer by layer, as all fine works of art do. I saw a number of people wiping away tears at the intermission. Maieutic Theater Works has a sack of gold on its hands, they are to be commended for producing such a fine contribution to the artistic world. There is nothing that I can recommend more to a theatergoer than to go to Providence, and see for yourself.