Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Political Hangover ...

Marin Ireland and O'Connell in In the Wake.

No, I'm not talking about last night's election results, I'm referring to In the Wake, Lisa Kron's ambitious new play (here's my Time Out New York review) that begins during the chaotic mess of the 2000 presidential election and follows its main character, Elle, through the next several years -- her personal life imploding as the U.S. spins woefully out of control. It's a smart, compelling drama that doesn't quite knock one out of the park but does offer an array of intriguing characters, including six high-caliber roles for women.

The most memorable is Judy (played by Deirdre O'Connell), a woman from a disenfranchised Kentucky family who, even though she works in relief aid, doesn't believe that voting will change the system. She was able to escape her upbringing because she was smart and lucky, she argues. And she cites the failure of her niece, whom she'd taken in, to finish high school as proof.

Is Judy right? Maybe, but it's also possible that her niece sensed her aunt's defeatist attitude and assumed from that that her efforts would never amount to anything. This is a prime example of Kron challenging her audience to debate the merits of each character's self-awareness, and one example of why I found In the Wake so stimulating.