After the Revolution
Gamm Theatre opens its 28th season with the Rhode Island premiere of playwright Amy Herzog’s thought-provoking political drama, "After the Revolution," a profound, stimulating examination of a leftist family thrown into disarray when a long held secret surfaces and threatens to separate them.
On the eve of the new millennium, recent law school graduate Emma Joseph (Diana Buirski), a driven, committed young career woman and creator of a foundation named after her renowned Marxist grandfather, Joe Joseph, is specializing in defending those who have been treated unfairly by the judicial system.
When the family learns a soon-to-be-released book reveals conduct unbecoming of Grandpa Joe, Emma refuses to believe it, until her father, Ben (Jim O’Brien), reluctantly and shamefully admits her grandfather is guilty as charged. Betrayed and confused, Emma effectively disowns Ben and begins to question her own ideals and motives.
Buirski’s exemplary portrayal of the conflicted Emma is a stellar display of grace and humility. Her voice and expressions convey the externally stoic disposition of her character and the desperate struggle to better understand her grandfather’s actions, in spite of his ideology.
The strain and distance between Emma and Ben trickles down to her relationship with boyfriend and employee, Miguel (Ben Gracia), who reminds her of how neglectful she has become of both him and their work. Furthermore, Emma has been avoiding Morty (Sam Babbitt), a major donor and strong believer in her mission who she fears may reconsider his offer in light of Joe’s now tainted reputation.
At its core, "Revolution" is a compelling story about family loyalty and the potentially irreparable damage that results from secrecy and dishonesty. It also serves as an informative lesson in Marxist history and revisits select events and major players of the McCarthy hearings, including Julius and Ethel Rosenberg.
The stage, designed by Patrick Lynch, is highly and fittingly influenced by the color red, with floor-to-ceiling bookshelves at its center, customary of an intellectual household.
Wendy Overly is marvelous as Joe’s cagey, hard-of-hearing widow, Vera, who adores Emma, but fails to understand her granddaughter’s sudden change of heart. Babbitt is just as delightful and amusing as Emma’s wealthy benefactor and Vera’s longtime admirer from afar. As Emma’s father, Ben, O’Brien presents a winning combination of sincerity and insolence.
Gracia is charming to a fault as Miguel, and supporting players Casey Seymour Kim, as Emma’s stepmother, Mel, and Chuck Reifler, as her Uncle Leo, both deliver fine, solid performances.
Artistic Director Tony Estrella made a wise choice selecting this provocative work and he does a terrific job bringing these complex characters to life.
"After the Revolution" runs through October 14 at The Gamm Theatre, 172 Exchange Street, Pawtucket, RI. For info or tickets, visit The Gamm Theatre’s website.