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Wednesday, May 27 2009

Two siblings find themselves alone on a strange beach, then embark on a gender-bending odyssey — it's a premise that worked beautifully for Shakespeare in Twelfth Night. In Wreckage, currently making its premiere at Crowded Fire, playwright Caridad Svich takes that premise into far less subtle territory, placing her two main characters in lurid situations to highlight the fluidity of gender roles. As if that weren't heavy enough, she loads the script with poetic language that strains under its own importance, full of portentous phrases like "the cold massacre of night" and words like "beauteous." None of the ideas are especially fresh and none of it feels especially human, at least by the time one of the main characters is raped in a scene more exploitative than the "culture of brutality" Svich intends to critique. Too bad, because the production looks fantastic: Tim Szostek's smart lighting design makes the most of Evren Odcikin's elegant set, and Wesley Cabral's multimedia segments serve as the show's stylish high points. The actors, meanwhile, try their best with the dialogue, but they're given lines that no performer could sell. It's not their fault that they signed up for drama and got stuck with kitsch.

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Chris Jensen


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