Second Thought Theatre’s REVOLT. SHE SAID. REVOLT AGAIN. Review By Gadi Elkon

Second Thought Theatre closes out the 2017-18 season with Alice Birch's provocative production REVOLT. SHE SAID. REVOLT AGAIN.  British playwright Birch has been a powerful punch to the theatre world with her bold plays showcasing a truly boisterous voice.  The young playwright has already scooped up numerous awards including the 2018 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize.  STT's rendition of Birch's play is an explosive season closer and worthy of your time.  Here is my full review of STT's REVOLT. SHE SAID. REVOLT AGAIN.

Director/Actor Christie Vela return to STT is a wild take on Birch's work that really pushes boundaries.  I love her quote to STT about how the play isn't just thought-provoking, “We’re all (the cast/crew/design team) both terrified and thrilled to see what’s going to happen in the room once we get up on our feet. This piece is not thought-provoking. It’s thought-changing, in terms of culture, in terms of sex, gender and the act, in terms of what it means to go to the theatre. We’re all excited to get inside it and come out changed."

The production's cast is rounded out by familiar face Jenny Ledel, returning talents Lydia Mackay and Max Hartman, and newcomer Tia Laulusa.  Jenny Ledel continues to shine on the STT stage as each of her characters has shown a new caveat to her immense range.  I especially loved Ledel working with Hartman in Birch's opening sequence. She not only commands Max's full attention but we the audience can't help but be mesmerized by this dynamo of an actress.  Max captures the slight sense of humor showcased in the often harsh play.  You'll all love Hartman's high heel talents when you see this play.  Mackay is tasked with one of the more introspective actors in the play and her damning stare is something to behold.  Tia holds her own as the newcomer to STT stages.  The recent SMU grad highlights the youthful nature of the playwright. Vela weaves in and out to cause pure chaos and her impact is always felt.  The acting is both joyous for it's childlike explosive nature but also profound for it's ideas push at the structures of conformity in our society. Overall the production isn't really easy to describe since a lot of dialogue overlaps and the lightening design keeps you in a nervous state throughout.  The really powerful visual choice that puts the play in a new realm is that the crew whitewashed the entire black box theater.  The production hits you hard and your concussed state never has a chance to really come unraveled.  But this is all fitting to the understanding and acceptance of why the play is worth it all.  Even for the writing of the production Alice Birch told whatsonstage.com just how whirlwind the experience was for her.  Here is a snippet of that interview that I think captures some of the influence and for sure the passion behind this work.

The RSC commissioned four writers, four women, back in 2013 to respond to the provocation that well behaved women seldom make history. The phrase made me quite angry. I think because I couldn't really figure out what that meant. I tried to read a really broad range of feminist literature, so things like Kat Banyard and Caitlin Moran's book, and then things at the more radical end so lots of Andrea Dworkin and crucially this book called The Scum Manifesto by Valerie Solanas.

She was the person who shot Andy Warhol?

Yes, The Scum Manifesto is vile, I mean it's really horrible. And it's very hard to remove the piece from her – she had a very troubled existence. But I liked the word manifesto and I thought it was interesting to think about in terms of a theatrical form. I also liked how unapologetic it was. So all of that was in the mix for Revolt, but I was putting off writing it, and then I wrote it in about three days straight.  From whatsonstage.com.

Thought-Changing work is difficult to put on, but STT's 2017-18 season as a whole has tested our notions of what is supposed to be our reality.  REVOLT. SHE SAID. REVOLT AGAIN is the hardest punch of the season with it's direct assault on the over masculine world we live in.  I find it not that crazy to realize that Birch wrote this feminist piece during the Brexit movement and the switch to American soil has co-existed in a Trump presidency.  Ironically (or sadly not that ironic) is that STT opened the season with HILLARY AND CLINTON.  Birch's voice isn't reactionary though.  The piece seems steeped in a long history of inequality that she is hoping to highlight and showcase.  The ideas and issues brought up in the production have been holding back women ever since they supposedly birthed from Adam's rib.  The play is rather a loud scream to go ahead and act.  The title alone should tell you what this production is all about.  That AGAIN at the end is the reminder that failure should not be treated as a deterrent but as the catalyst.  So basically folks check out the play at Second Thought Theatre then light your torch and start burning this man's world to the ground.  Disclaimer at least wait till after you leave Turtle Creek area, the trees and creek are so darn pretty.

Performances – Remaining.

Thursday August 30
Friday August 31
Saturday September 1
Monday September 3 (Pay-What-You-Can)

Thursday September 6
Friday September 7
Saturday September 8
Monday September 10 (Pay-What-You-Can)

Thursday September 13
Friday September 14
Saturday September 15 (Closing Night)