Tomorrow in the Battle, by Kieron Barry. Directed by Laura Margolis. Reviewed by J. Peter Bergman.
A play about a gun, or a son-of-a-gun
Christopher Kelly, Danielle Skraastad, Olivia Gilliatt; photo: Rob Shannon
Kieron Barry's play, "Tomorrow in the Battle" is concluding its revival run at Stageworks Hudson, the theater that first brought the play to life in 2012. One of the players from that first production, Danielle Skraastad, has returned to the play taking on a different role from the one she originated, moving from Jennifer (the girl friend) to Anna (the wife). Apparently this shift has altered the way play works; as I didn't see the original production I can only comment on the new one. Skraastad is just brilliant as the wife of an extraordinary surgeon in London. Her role gives her opportunities to support her husband's character, amplify the girl-friend and disclose much of herself at the same time...but more of her later.
Laura Margolis, the director of both productions, has made this play's future her special interest. She has also worked with her trio of actors to create remarkably indelible characters and she has done so on a stage set the represents the intertwined lives of these three people. As she moves them on and off individual platforms and leaning benches she creates an almost dream-like continent, half Britain and half the human soul. Never able to leave the stage, for their platforms lead nowhere, the three become more and more an intricate choreographic unit that represents their own inner workings, brain, heart, soul and more. Margolis is a master, or mistress, of this format making the most of the different heights and sizes of her three actors, often interweaving arms and bodies for both meaningful and beautiful effect. This is a terrific piece of work for this director, proving that representational theater, as well as presentational theater, is her calling.
Christopher Kelly is an excellent choice for Simon, the man who is seemingly at the center of everything but who is, really, just a single thread in a powerful story about love and pride. His voice and his height along with his handsome face help to bring us quickly into his narrative. His cool professional attitude soon becomes the voice of male lust and passion and his rigid body, a pole of correctness morphs into a sensual human being with needs, needs, needs. Kelly handles all of these aspects of Simon superbly.
As Jennifer, Olivia Gilliatt shows us a youthful professional woman who cannot control her post-adolescent body. Beautiful, sexual, she is the perfect object for a man like Simon, a living doll ready to be toyed with on a regular basis. Gilliatt plays the kitten, plays the cat with equal focus. She also makes the gun in the play into a smoking gun just by handling it. Where that leads is for an audience to discover on its own.
No matter what anyone else brings to the play, Skraastad makes the play her own, almost all of the time. Not a scene stealer she is, instead, a scene grounder. She manages in all of her moments to stay centered and to stay powerful. Her monologue of being physically brought to climax by her imaginary lover is about as strong a scene as any I have seen lately. That is but one moment in an evening of fine emotive sequences for Skraastad. She is playing the top and never going over it.
The show closes this weekend but it won't end here. It can't. Saturday night's house was a sell-out crowd and one that truly took the play to heart. Hopefully this show will move on and continue its journey with the double kick-off that Laura Margolis has given the play.
Danielle Skraastad; photo: Rob Shannon
Tomorrow in the Battle FINISHES its run today at Stageworks Hudson, 41 Cross Street, Hudson, NY. For information or tickets call the box office at 518-828-7843.