Anthony J. Piccione, Associate New York Critic
When thinking about World War II, and the atrocities committed by the Axis Powers, it’s often easy to want to lionize the war heroes who fought to protect democracy from the tyrannically governments that wanted to annihilate freedom. Having said that, a lot has changed for the better since World War II, in terms of younger generations being more progressive on issue of race, culture and equal rights. Given the feelings some World War II veterans had, it’s easy to overlook the fact that these two feelings – the need to celebrate our veterans and to fight against the evils of racism – can actually conflict with one another, a fact that is explored in Glory Kadigan’s new play Till We Meet Again, now in its third week at the 14th Street Y.
Set in the late 1980s, as World War II veteran Robert reminisces about past memories that are relived as he tells stories to his granddaughter Helen, the play’s concept is certainly one that makes for a compelling and thought-provoking drama, and there were certainly some scenes, such as toward the end of Act I and the hospital scene in Act II, that were captivating to watch. However, there were too many scenes where the play dragged on slowly, and by the end of its two-hour length, I was left with no feeling or emotional investment for its characters. It was hard not to be left with the lingering feeling that these problems could have solved simply by reading through the script, and cutting out some excess dialogue that did little to advance the broader story.
In terms of casting, there are some gems worth noting. In the role of 11-year old Helen, Mehret Marsh proves to be a delightful and charismatic presence throughout, despite some technical glitches involving a mic she was wearing. Also delivering one of the better performances of the night was June Ballinger, who turns in a strong performance in the role of Maureen. Less impressive in the role of Kevin was Perri Yaniv, who – despite giving an energetic performance toward the play’s climax – had a very forced accent that proved distracting from the performance.
The real highlight of the evening, however, had everything to do with the production elements that made it worth watching. Jessie Lynn Smith’s colorful lighting design greatly create and enhance the mood of each scene in the play, while Andy Evan Cohen’s projection design also proved to be a key and notable aspect of the production, which help make it a slight notch above another typical, World War Ii-themed drama.
While the play was not without its notable flaws, it nonetheless is a drama that leaves you thinking well after you leave the theater, and it deserves some credit for exploring some overlooked, if not uncomfortable, themes and issues that stem from out past, but in the wake of today’s cultural and generational divides, still feel as relevant as ever. Unfortunately, there are only a few performances left, as I barely had the chance to catch the show myself. However, if you do find time during its last weekend, consider checking it out and deciding for yourself how effective it was in getting others to think about the issues it raises.
TILL WE MEET AGAIN
“Till We Meet Again” stars June Ballinger, David L. Carson, Gina LeMoine, Mehret Marsh, Mary Monahan, and Perri Yaniv.
“Till We Meet Again” is written by Glory Kadigan, featuring scenic design by Christopher Stratis, lighting design by Jessie Lynn Smith, costume design by Izzy Fields, sound and projections design and musical direction by Andy Evan Cohen, fight choreography by Alberto Bonilla, dance choreography by Dana Boll, props design by Lytza R. Colon, and press representation from Jay Michaels.
“Till We Meet Again” runs at the 14th Street Y, located at 344 E 14th Street, New York, NY, from January 11th-26th. For more information, please visit www.14streety.org.