OnStage Massachusetts Critic
Entering their sixth season, Fresh Ink Theatre brings us the World Premiere of Laura Neill’s Don’t Give Up the Ship. The play follows Diana, a middle-aged mother of two, who wakes up as Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry, hero of the War of 1812. In learning from the past, Diana finds her courage to take control of her life, discover who she really is and who she’s meant to be. Neill’s writing is fast-paced, multi-dimensional, and humorous. Her characters are complex, and true to life. While the core of this story is heavy and at times emotional, Neill’s colorful and witty humor is sprinkled throughout. Directed by Joshua Glenn-Kayden, the five member cast magnificently brings this unique story to life.
The intimate Plaza Blackbox, part of the Boston Center for the Arts, was well utilized with simple, but meaningful nautical décor, and necessary props and set pieces. The scenic design was done by Madelynne Hays with props by Kelly Smith and Julia Fioravanti. The sound design by Andrew Duncan Will, assisted by Matthew Goode, added an additional layer of complexity to the production. The lighting was purposefully designed by Harrison Pearse Burke and added depth and clarity to Diana’s moments of delusions or dreams. Each technical aspect worked in sync with the writing, characters and emotional tones of the play.
Plunged into darkness as the show began, the packed audience was surrounded by the thunderous sounds of an ocean storm and crashing waves. It silenced the outside thoughts of the viewers and immediately engulfed them into the world of the play. The cast featured Alex Alexander as Diana, Tonasia Jones as her daughter Martha, Louise Hamill as her other daughter Olive, Hayley Spivey as her nurse Lizzie, and Robert Cope as her ex-husband Jeff. As a whole, they had great chemistry and were believable and relatable. Alexander displayed both strength and vulnerability as she portrayed the Commodore and Diana. Jones delivered many snappy one-liners with fantastic comedic timing. As Olive, Hamill was gentle and sympathetic, but also a fierce protector of her mother. Lizzie was dynamically portrayed by Spivey; who also had great comedic timing. As Jeff, Cope was distressed with his ex-wife’s condition, but clearly willing to do whatever he could to help his daughters and be with them when they needed him most. This ensemble play was wonderfully brought to life by these actors who were perfectly cast as these richly layered characters.
One entertaining aspect of this show was that it didn’t play out as the audience might have anticipated. Almost never does a show capture my attention and keep my focus for its duration, but this show did. The rest of the audience was fully captivated as well by what was being played out mere feet in front of them. They were vocally supportive of the cast and seemed to very much enjoy the performance. The story is full of adventure, family drama, and love. Overall, it’s a highly entertaining production that is certainly worth attending. ©
The show runs approximately 90 minutes with one 10 minute intermission and is suitable for an adult audience. The play is performing at the Boston Center for the Arts’ Plaza Blackbox, in downtown Boston, February 10th-25th with performances Wednesday & Thursday at 7:30pm, Fridays & Saturdays at 8pm, and matinees Saturday 2/18 and 2/25 at 2pm. Tickets are General Admission for $25 with matinee performances $25 online or Pay-What-You-Want at the door ($6 min). Groups of 8 or more get $5 off. For more information or to purchase tickets online visit: www.freshinktheatre.org/dont-give-up-the-ship/ or http://www.bostontheatrescene.com/season/Dont-Give-Up-the-Ship/
Special events for the show include:
--Cheap Date Night on Wednesday, February 15th and 22nd - Buy One Ticket, Get One Free, online only with code DATE
--Playwright's Night on Thursday, February 16th and 23nd with a Tootsie Pop Talk following the performance
--Pay-What-You-Want performances ($6 min) at the 2pm matinees on Saturday, February 18th and 25th
For more of my reviews and theatrical thoughts check out: http://intheatresome1isalwayswatching.blogspot.com/