‘Moth’ at The Studio Theatre’s 2ndStage

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FOUR STARS
There’s more than a flickering of interesting technique and stimulating acting in the production (U.S.Premiere) of the play Moth by playwright Declan Greene currently playing at Studio Theatre’s 2NDSTAGE.  Like the symbolic moth that flickers across the stage, one is drawn to the very relevant and intense theme of student bullying like “a moth to a flame.” The myriad moods of this seventy–five minute piece are fluidly directed by the accomplished actor Tom Story. The focus in this compelling production is on dazzling stage technique (movement, scenic/lighting elements, sound, projections) and two fine performances with one being a virtual knockout of explosive power.

David Nate Goldman and Allie Villarreal. Photo by Igor Dmitry.
David Nate Goldman and Allie Villarreal. Photo by Igor Dmitry.

This very compressed piece of writing presents the two characters of the play-a lanky, almost pencil-thin, eccentric loner with a genuinely absurd sense of humor and a penchant for anime and mimicry, Sebastian (David Nate Goldman) and an emo-Wiccan young woman of girth, quick reactions, sarcasm and lacerating humor, named Claryssa (Allie Villarreal). The play revolves around the story of how these two outsiders from conventional norms form bonds that make them alternately co-dependent, abusive of each other, compatriots in subversion and, ultimately, destined for despair.

Author Declan shows these two individuals who are absolutely alone -shut off from objective reality, cut off from authority figures (parents, teachers, etc.) and, ultimately, cut off from knowing how to transcend their current circumstances,-are like raw wounds festering and ready to explode. Villarreal gives a strong, solid performance as the character whose sense of self-survival is only sustained by antagonism and belligerence. Villarreal stands out in her moments of defiance and anger.

Though Villarreal is fine, David Nate Goldman is sublime in every nuance of his portrayal.  Goldman’s movement is commanding, he grimaces with ease, his gift for mimicry is amazing and his ironic, quirky sense of humor is marvelous to observe.  Goldman somehow manages to bring more dimension to his character than seems to exist in the text–he is totally “in-the-moment” in each scene as he fights off his demons with his wild imagination. He actually manages to make his character endearing even in his despairing moments. His sheer charisma is a promise of even greater stage moments in the future.

David Nate Goldman and Allie Villarreal. Photo by Igor Dmitry.
David Nate Goldman and Allie Villarreal. Photo by Igor Dmitry.

We should feel great identification with these characters but it is often difficult because we only see them in extremis with very little context. Of course, an evolved person must and would feel sorry for these taunted, tormented youths but the playwright does not make it easy for the audience to see them as the victims they are. Too often, the harsher aspects of the characters are stressed. Another concern is the fact that these two gifted actors must play every character referred to in the play (such as teacher, fellow students, parent, etc.), and as a result, in such a fast-paced and non-lengthy play, the actors must rush into each character referred to at such a fast pace that it is often hard to properly discern the reference points.

Luckily, the production is solidified with the absolutely superb technical elements of this production. Movement Director Elena Day stages many memorable physical encounters. Scenic and Lighting Designer Colin K. Bills has developed a very stark yet effective set for this intimate space -rows of school lockers are utilized in imaginative and creative ways.  The lighting choices are audaciously compelling from the swarms of flickering moths to the pulsing of red light. Projections Designer Mimi d’Autremont adds a special touch. Sound Designer James Bigbee Garver adds atmospheric touches such as the ominous sound of a drone to background cafeteria chatter.

Be sure and catch this Moth before it flies away.

Running Time: 75 minutes, without an intermission.

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Moth plays through May 4, 2014 at The Studio Theatre’s 2ndStage-1501 14th Street NW, in Washington, DC. For tickets, call the box office at (202) 332-3300, or purchase them online.

LINK

‘Magic Time!’: ‘Moth’ at The Studio Theatre’s 2ndStage by John Stoltenberg on DCMetroTheaterArts.

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David Friscic
David has always had a passionate interest in the arts from acting in professional dinner theatre and community theatre to reviewing film and local theatre in college to making numerous treks to New York City to indulge his interest in live theatre. An enthusiastic interest in writing has shown itself in a BA in English/Education and an MA in English Literature. Taken together, these two interests have culminated in the logical conclusion of writing for an arts blog. David moved up and down the East Coast due to his father's job at General Electric and this has helped him to perceive the world in a very open way. After his schooling, David taught in Catholic school systems for awhile and, then, spent three years in the seminary with two years at Catholic University studying Theology and one year in a practicuum working at a church in New York State. David currently works at the National Science Foundation as a Technical Information Specialist for the Office of Polar Programs and has had the great opportunity to go to Antarctica twice and Greenland once in support of the research community. He enjoys living in Bethesda and has taken courses at the Writer's Center. David enjoys swimming, traveling, reading, and working on committees at his condo. His major interest, however, is the arts and all it encompasses---from symphony, to film, to museum treks to live theatre. He counts having lunch with Lillian Gish and meeting Lily Tomlin, Geraldine Page, Maureen Stapleton, Liza Minnelli and Sandy Dennis as some of the more exciting encounters of his life.