Reviewed by Nicholas Linnehan
The urge for revenge and justice can be quite strong in the face of trauma. But do two wrongs make a right? What happens when we take the law into our own hands? Well for LGBT+ people in Russia this is sadly a reality they fight against every day. To make matters worse the Russian government is sanctioning hate crimes, which further puts them at risk. Thanks to Frank J. Avella, we get a glimpse into the horror that plagues the gay community in Russia. This is happening today. It is real. His new play Lured exposes us to these crimes against humanity.
Enter Zhanna, whose brother was tortured horrifically by one of these underground extremist cults. Her Brother Dmitry fell pray to the unbelievable hate that Tatiana and Sergei, members of a hate group, are consumed with. Unfortunately, Dmitry dies due to the beating he received from them. This lays the ground for his sister Zhanna to plot actions against Tatiana and Serge, especially when the authorities did not act.
It is hard to watch the show because it makes you want to yell and scream at the inhumane treatment happening on stage. Tatiana must be a challenging a role for any actor to play. Yet, somehow Cali Gilman digs deep to unearth the heartless beast of Tatiana. My hat goes off to her, the actor not the character. David Joseph Volino is captivating as Yuri, ,Zhanna’s husband. He probably had the least number of lines and could have easily checked out. Yet, every time I watched him he was truly living in the moment and experiencing the absolute terror of the situation he finds himself in. He did not need to speak to communicate how scared he was by the shear insanity he had to endure.
My one slight criticism of this provocative, in-your-face play is when Tatiana speaks about her brother. I know the playwright, Frank Avella’s reasoning for including this. But instead of making the oppressed and the oppressor connect, it seems unnecessary and forced into the play. Avella has a powerful play and I didn’t want to be taken out of the moment of the main story and that is what it did. But, that withstanding is minor compared to this knockout play.
This isn’t a play for the faint of heart, but sometimes we need to be jolted back into reality and bare witness to the awful things happening in other countries. Lured is timely, relevant to our political climate, and heart wrenching. There were audible gasps of outrage throughout this 70 minute glimpse into Russian persecution. This is a prime example of Theater That Matters!
Lured plays now through Nov. 25, 2018 at Theater for the New City, 155 1st ave.