nytheatre.com review by Martin Denton
See this show.
August 15, 2003
Lost, a musical by Jessica Grace Wing and Kirk Wood Bromley, is immensely moving, stunningly emotional, and wondrously theatrical. It’s a contemporary fairy/folk tale, blending the story of Hansel and Gretel with the legend of Virginia Dare and the Lost Colony. And it is—dazzlingly—a rule-breaking, genre-defying hybrid: part folk opera, part Grand Guignol spectacle, part loose-limbed hip-hop versification, Lost will in places remind you of Sweeney Todd and Into the Woods and Dark of the Moon, sometimes all at the same time. But you’ll never lose sight of the fact that you’re seeing a work of intense originality and passionate intelligence.
The story, briefly, is of Gabby and Hanlon, young siblings who get lost in the woods one day and are lured by a mysterious man into the household of a witch named Mamba, in the heart of the Great Smoky Mountains. Mamba sustains herself by harvesting the organs of children; she’s in need at the moment of a new brain and reproductive system, and she plots to obtain these from super-intelligent Hanlon and fertile, blooming Gabby. The boy and girl find allies in two of Mamba’s previous unwilling donors, a handsome young soldier named Silas and a sad young woman named Ivy, and also in a spectral white fawn. The tale proceeds in directions both expected and entirely surprising; I will let you find out for yourself what Bromley and Wing do with this deliberately awesome and grotesque material.
What I will reveal is that they weave a kind of enchantment; with collaborators Chad Gracia (producer/dramaturg), Rob Urbinati (director), Jane Stein (sets and puppets), Jeff Nash (lighting), Karen Flood (costumes), Richard K. Kathlean and Erin McReynolds (makeup and hair), Martin Blessinger (orchestrations), and Valerie Berke Sciarra (musical direction and arrangements) they craft an intoxicating ninety minutes that is by turns funny, scary, uneasy, epic, and intimate. Lost is heartstoppingly uplifting and heartbreakingly sad, again sometimes simultaneously. It is unfailingly beautiful.
Wing’s score is rich in variety and emotion. (Tragically, Wing died just a few days before completing it, so the promise indicated here so vividly will never be realized.) Bromley, author of pyrotechnic verse plays like Midnight Brainwash Revival and The American Revolution, has never written with such simplicity and maturity. Lost has a cast of sixteen (huge by FringeNYC standards) and includes several outstanding performances: April Vidal’s beguilingly innocent Gabby, Ted Malawer’s earnestly appealing Hanlon, Molly Karlin’s remarkable witch Mamba, Michael Ruby’s vivdly memorable Nut Knox (one of Mamba’s hoodoos), and Adam Kemmerer’s gorgeously sung Silas.
Much more needs to be said about Lost—and it will be, for this show is bound to have a life after this festival. For now, just be sure to make Lost part of your FringeNYC experience. There is a theatrical treasure here awaiting your discovery.