Director Melanie Moyer and the Red Fern Theatre Company have taken on Jack Karp’s captivating Irreversible. Running three weekends at The Theater at the 14th St Y, it is a deep look into the decisions we make and more importantly, must live with.
Robert Oppenheimer (Jordan Kaplan) and his brother Frank (Josh Doucette) are desperately racing to beat the Nazis to the world’s first nuclear bomb in the throes of World War II, but when they finally see the power of their new weapon, the two men are torn apart in a battle between conscience and ambition.
Being a story based in science, Irreversible could potentially make for a tedious book. Luckily for us, Karp keeps the plot in motion with wit, humor, drama, love and sex. The dialogue is interesting and very human. The most inventive aspect of Karp’s writing is displayed in the form of multiple conversations all centered around the lead character, Robert, in different locations and points of time that intertwine to present a fluid through line. Josh Doucette delivers Frank with honesty and completely in the moment - keeping the audience engaged. Other noteworthy performances are Amelia Mathews as Jean and Dan Odell as Niels Bohr.
The scenic design by Andrew Mannion is a creative blend of indoor realism and outdoor expressionism. A simple desk, chalkboard and sofa are dispersed throughout the three quarter style staging with a large bull’s-eye target on the floor. In the back, there is the hint of dessert hills. Scene transitions are done effortlessly by draping linen over the sofa, turning a table around or removing entire pieces. Having all the stage elements consistently present kept the audience imagination present as well.
Lighting Designer Marie Yokoyama also adds her spark to this production. Right from the start the audience is blinded, first by darkness then by light. The twinkling of stars gives a welcome air of romance. Yokoyama also utilizes some slow fades for dramatic emphasis and washes of red-orange to enhance the reality of a nuclear bomb.
Also adding his mark on this production is sound designer Andy Evan Cohen. From the moment you enter the theatre you are welcomed by the romantic sounds of the 1940’s. Once in the throes of Irreversible, Cohen uses a deep rumble and low waving tones to compliment the “nuclear” aspect while heightening the drama on stage.For a thoughtful look at the start of the arms race we still feel today, go see Jack Karp’s Irreversible, playing at The Theater at the 14th St Y weekends until March 29th.
Review By: Paul Morin
Photos By: Red Fern