Madeleine George asks a lot of questions in her award-winning 2011 play, The Zero Hour at The Baltimore’s Theatre Project through the weekend. How do you tell the truth about yourself when that truth might devastate the people you love? Should you answer that phone call during an intimate moment in a relationship that demands full attention? And when does a relationship reach its turning point, at the zero hour, perhaps?
These issues were barely resolved, though they did awaken us to explore the daily games we play – whether freely or persuasively – to survive in modern day America.
“What does it mean to be gay?” asks Rebecca, intensely played by Rebecca Tucker who makes her Iron Crow Theatre debut in this production that kicks off The Season of Dark Play for the 2016-17 Baltimore series. “Why do we need a winner in who committed the most crimes against humanity?”
These are, indeed, heavy opinions for the bookish character, living with her lesbian lover, and who is writing a textbook on the Holocaust for 7th graders in a New York City public school. Though, again, it does get you thinking about that dark side of our world, specifically the German atrocities that haunt Rebecca throughout the play.
Rena Marie plays O, an offbeat, likeable character that adds zest and humor, though she, too, has her own baggage. In many ways, The Zero Hour is a fogyish love story (this time between two women) with the same hassle of role-playing (who is the breadwinner and who cleans up?) and the usual judgmental mothers who bring the couple down.
Both women deserved the standing ovation on opening night. They cover multiple roles in the play and dress and undress onstage accordingly. When O becomes a reformed Nazi on the Number 7 train from Queens to Manhattan, laughter broke out in the historic 1887 building. When Rebecca took on the role of her own mom to comfort O in the shabby one bedroom flat, we sighed.
Kudos to the sound wizards Alex Duncker, Phillip Rodgers, and Sean Elias for the clever tick-tocks and rain drops to create a sense of time passing in an unpredictable situation. Artistic Director Sean Elias wisely chose the two women for this tour-de-force production.
My question, though, is why a third actor (Nick Fruit as Doug, an All-American Nazi) – a straight man’s role for a five minute appearance. O could have handled that part as well as her own character that guided Rebecca on her questioning journey.
The Zero Hour could not have a more perfect home than inclusive Theatre Project, presented for too-short-a-run under the banner of LGBTQ American theatre, described as “a queer work Iron Crow Theatre is thrilled to premiere regionally in Baltimore, a city we believe to be one of the country’s ‘queerest.’
Running Time: One hour and 45 minutes, with no intermission.
The Zero Hour plays through Sunday, at Iron Crow Theatre performing at the Baltimore Theatre Project – 45 Preston Street, Baltimore, MD. This play is not recommended for younger viewers. For tickets, purchase them online.