As Dance of the Wasp and Spider opens, there is a five-minute monologue by the leading actor Tyler Brody who provides a more in-depth analysis as to the play’s title. As the wasp dominates the spider, it eventually delivers its pain and torturous sting. The wasp lays its larvae on the spider’s stomach and when the newborns hatch they consume what remains of the spider. Tyler ends his monologue with these final words…”I am a Spider and soon you will be, too.” Combined with the ominous background music playing since the patron enters the theater, I definitely felt that I had entered the Twilight Zone.
The performance intensity never let up as I sat transfixed throughout the play keeping abreast of the story that was playing out before me. Although family-based with a mother, father, son and daughter and daughter’s boy friend as the principal characters, the cast numbers eight. The lead male actor Alex Badalov, who is on-stage about 90% of the performance, portrays Tyler Brody, the troubled son who is challenged by his family and friends, and he dominates the production for this edge-of-your seat thriller.
The play consists of two acts each with two scenes which all take place in the Brody home. There are two rooms consisting of a sofa and a coffee table stage right and the proverbial four seated kitchen table stage left. The stage is used to its fullest extent as the action is carried out before your eyes. The choice of this particular subject matter with the horrific shootings at Sandy Hook and the Trayvon Martin case (still fresh from its constant broadcasts on radio/television the last two weeks), make it even more timely. The American psyche has been hammered with the issue of guns and violence and certainly this play reminds us we still have lots of work to do in this arena.
Sometimes when you have one person Larry E. Blossom serving in the roles of writing, producing and co-directing the results can be a detriment since teamwork might be minimized. Since Mr. Blossom has over 30 years in the mental health field, he has accomplished a pragmatic representation which is both realistic and believable. With the able assistance of Sound and Light Designer Elliot Lanes, he successfully incorporates music which only heightens and action of what’s transpiring on the stage. He also adds wry humor at times too when in one scene he audience hears the Mr. Rodgers TV show jingle- “It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood,” about 180 degrees different from what’s transpiring on stage.
This is definitely a ‘Must-See’ fringe show that should not be missed.
Running Time: 70 minutes.
Dance of the Wasp and Spider plays through July 27, 2013 at the Mountain at Mt. Vernon Methodist Church- 900 Massachusetts Avenue, in Washington, DC. For performance times and to purchase tickets, vist the show’s Capital Fringe page.