BWW Reviews: A SHADE OF GREEN from Theatre 9/12
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by Jay Irwin
The word riveting just doesn't seem to cover the experience of watching the World Premiere of Charles Waxberg's, "A Shade of Green" currently being offered from Theatre 9/12. No, riveting doesn't cover the intense ethical debate wrapped in a gripping game of cat and mouse, nor does mesmerizing. No, those adjectives just don't cover it so I'm really only left with, DAMN!
Theatre 9/12 artistic director Charles Waxberg has come up with one of the most fascinating interviews since Clarice Starling discussed the screaming of the lambs with Hannibal Lecter as a meek accountant for the Arch Diocese, Lyman Conroy (Michael Oaks) is invited for a meeting with serial killer Andy Kahn (Terry Edward Moore) who is awaiting his execution on Death Row. But Lyman doesn't know Andy (or he thinks he doesn't) and has no idea why he's been requested to come. And that eerie premise sets the stage for the slow trickle of secrets and lies which pours from these complex characters. Right from the moment the timid Lyman is brought on stage by the hilariously gruff guard (Gregory Michaels) you're set a little on edge and have no idea what to expect putting the audience in the same state of mind as Lyman. I really don't want to tell too much more since the twists and turns are the fun of the script, but I will say the entire play gave me chills.
Moore is stunning as the sociopathic killer, Kahn. Right along with his charisma and humor he brings an element of danger and unpredictability to the character making him more monster than man. And that perfectly offsets the sweet caring charm of Oaks as Lyman. Oaks inhabited the core of this docile man with every fiber of his being turning every vocal inflection and physical twitch into a brilliant tapestry of a flawed human. Furthermore the chemistry between the two men is palpable. And Michaels may have only had a few moments on stage but with each one he managed to convey volumes on his character.
A conversation play is a tough one to pull off and keep engaging but co-directors Waxberg and Paul O'Connell manage it with ease. Even the staging kept the tension alive in this dance with the devil.
What Theatre 9/12 has done here is raised the bar for all the other theaters in town especially considering all performances of "A Shade of Green" are pay what you can. And when a pay what you can show performed in a church can outshine some of the "professional" theater out there charging 40 bucks a head or more, those professional theaters will need to make sure to bring their A game. I'll admit I was a little dubious about catching an unknown play put up in a church and considering there were only about 30 people joining me, I guess I wasn't the only one. But I cannot urge you strongly enough to get out and catch this one. The price is right, the seats are comfortable, the concessions are yummy (try the cookies) oh, and the play is one of the most exhilarating things you'll see this season.
"A Shade of Green" from Theatre 9/12 performs at Trinity Parish Church through February 19th. For tickets or information contact their reservation line at 206-332-7908 or visit them online at www.theatre912.com.
Photo credit: Michael Brunk