Reviewed by Kenneth Laboy
Monsoon Season is an exquisitely crafted thrill-ride. Written by Lizzie Vieh, it is a series of vignettes of lost conversations, an almost one man-show, a two-monologue play. It follows a man at the end of his rope, until it doesn’t. The sense of danger ever-present.
The strength of this production resides in the sure-footed way in which director Kristin McCarthy Parker uses every aspect of production to make sure the audience goes on the expected emotional journey. You-Shin Chen’s scenery unfurls itself slowly, adding simple nuances to what originally was just clutter. Sarah Johnston’s lighting is superbly integrated to the narrative; she uses her design in delightful, constantly surprising ways that add dimensions to the established atmosphere of unease and suspense. The sound designed by Emma Wilk guides you seamlessly through the necessary emotional beats required by the text.
Added to the sensorial experience the design team has created, are Richard Thieriot and Therese Plaehn. The narrative hinges on the success of these performances, and Thieriot and Plaehn manage to soar. They step on stage with a sort of unhinged naturalism, and start conversing, sometimes with the audience, other times with unseen friends and foes, always with a deep need for connection that is withheld from them. That last moment, one where that need is finally satisfied, is catharsis at its finest.
No one part of the production overshadows the rest. There is a hearty balance to the parts that creates an exhilarating whole. This is a team of professionals seamlessly working as a unit, bringing their best to the table. And the result is one worth beholding.
All For One Theatre’s production of Monsoon Season plays now through Saturday, November 23rd in The Rattlestick Playwrights Theater (224 Waverly Place, NYC)
Tickets can be bought at https://www.afo.nyc/ for $25