Monday, September 22, 2014

‘Colossal’ at Olney Theatre — An Amazing Play

What an amazing show. I saw this on Saturday. It’s the first time I’ve been to the Olney Theatre. This show was well worth the trip.

This is a story about a star athlete, Mike, as he comes to terms with an injury that has left him partial paralyzed.

As you take your seats the play has already begun with the cast in the midst of practice running drills and urging each other on. It is really amazing. Hanging from the ceiling is a scoreboard. It has a working clock which counts down the minutes left in each quarter (the play is 75 minutes long which is four 15 quarters as well as 15 minutes for half time) and of course it tells the score as well.

The hit that caused Mike’s injury is shown several times in the play. Mike has a remote and plays the injury back and forth. The choreography of this is nothing short of amazing. As Mike presses stop and moves around the scene in his wheel chair. The players come to a stop and hold their positions. Mike presses forward and the scene moves forward. Sometimes it moves forward at normal speed some time it is in slow motion. But most impressive is when he presses reverse and the scene backs up. The actors move backwards in slow motion. It’s just fantastic to watch.

From the Post:
And by dividing the role of severely injured Mike between two actors, one playing him as a ripped athlete (Joseph Carlson) before the incident and the other (Michael Patrick Thornton) as a patient in a wheelchair soon after, the playwright is able to draw out the facets of Mike’s psyche, in ways far more complex than one anticipates. For Hinderaker wants us to understand how Mike makes peace with his body by coming to terms with his life, with all of its new limitations, all of its discomfiting desires of old.

From DC Theater Scene:
Colossal is a rare theatrical experience not to be missed. Director Will Davis guides the play with a sure hand in both the quiet moment and the many full-motion group sequences (aided by Choreographer Christopher D’Amboise and Fight and Movement Choreographer Ben Cunis). A special shout out should also go out to the committed ensemble (Sam Faria, Will Hayes, Jeff Kirkman III, Michael Litchfield, and Matthew Ward).

From DC Metro Theater Arts:
Hinderaker’s play allows us to experience two versions of Mike simultaneously, in that we are also privy to his younger self in Young Mike, performed with adroit physicality, boundless energy, and honest vulnerability by Joe Carlson. With the mirror acting as a steady motif throughout, the image of Mike and Young Mike coexisting in the same psychological landscape makes for a palpable struggle throughout the piece. Young Mike struggles with his identity as a homosexual, an athlete, and a dancer, and the ways in which that masculinity does or does not play into these three aspects of his identity.

I won't give away the ending but I will say it packs a real emotional punch. 

Colossal runs through October 5. Go and see it. It's a great show.

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