Second Thought Theatre – 2 Caryl Churchill Plays – Review by Gadi Elkon

Through the end of this month Second Thought Theatre will present not one but two plays by Caryl Churchill.  The double dose of plays by the British playwright are separated by a ten minute intermission and over a decade of writing time.  From the late 1950’s through till the double plays she premiered in 2016 Churchill has etched herself as one of the most legendary living playwrights.  STT’s Artistic Director and Director for the two plays of Churchill mentions in the playbill of a 2011 article that asked which playwrights would Dallas audiences want to see.  The top of that list was 5 votes for the British octogenarian.  STT once again dives into the tough subjects and thoughtful work by giving us a 2 for 1 special of Churchill for June 2019.  Here is my review of, Drunk Enough to Say I Love You? & Here We Go by Caryl Churchill.

Caryl Churchill is regarded as one of the greatest living playwrights, and not without reason. Second Thought is thrilled to present two of her short plays in one evening of fearless, provocative theatre. Drunk Enough to Say I Love You? marries the personal and political in an entirely new way when Guy, a man, is seduced by Sam, a country. Their torrid affair hits rocky terrain as Sam’s bloodlust becomes too much for Guy, but Sam is confident he’ll come crawling back. In Here We Go, Churchill goes universal, meditating on death, what precedes it, and what follows it. This brief but powerful ode to ephemerality is sure to stay with audiences long after the evening ends.  STT website.

Through June 29th STT will showcase Drunk Enough to Say I Love You? followed by Here We Go.  It’s most fitting that Artistic Director Alex Organ tackles the director’s chair for both of these ambitious productions.  His tremendous acting chops and passionate directing style seem perfect to tackle this difficult double header of work.  Churchill’s work is not for the feint of heart as her vernacular jumps from poetic precision to violent outbursts.  Drunk especially showcases this ebb and flow nature of Churchill’s work.  She certainly isn’t afraid of any subject and will poke at your sensibilities and beliefs.  Blake Hackler (a hell of a playwright himself) and Brandon Potter strip down literally to their underwear and figuratively to their emotional cores as they showcase the slow seduction of power.  Potter especially gets to battle his boundaries as his “Sam” forces our “Guy” to be seduced, scolded and sexually beaten down.  The dialogue is set at an incredibly fast pace and mixed in with the metal style of music by Jim/John Make Noise you’re left to witness pure adrenaline.  You can’t look away because the vocal sonic boom forces you to be embattled with the power struggle of these two figures.  A play that will push your own boundaries and make you question the motivations behind the choices our governments make.  Churchill’s raw fire is perfectly highlighted in this production.

A ten minute intermission allows you enough of a break to get your breath back.

Here We Go is a different pace and emotional test for any audience.  The full cast is rounded out with Hackler, Potter, Rhonda Boutte, Jenny Ledel and Kieran Connolly.  The first four open our play by reminiscing about their recently passed friend.  The open stage area and vibrant lighting choices allow our actors to command your attention without much movement.  Once again a scantly clad male takes hold of the middle of the play as Kieran emerges in only boxers.  His ritualistic performance is a fascinating take on Churchill’s command of how Death’s meaning may be understood in the mundane nature of life.  Churchill’s tackling many religious viewpoints or lack there of really allows for some sense of humor to burst forth as we lay witness to Connolly’s figuring out his current placement.  Are we witnessing Heaven, Hell or Purgatory or something wholly unique?  Here We Go thus is a rather inclusive premise.  Don’t we all wonder what happens when we take our last breath of life?  How can you not?  The entire notion of life is only important with the impending fear of death after all.  Churchill doesn’t appear to care to answer what happens when we die but to tackle the whole range of thought that goes into that question.  The final section of this production is rather peaceful and profound.  Rhonda Boutte and Kieran Connolly reenact his constant need to be helped to be dressed each day.  The repetition becomes as harmonious as Boutte simple humming that she perfectly carries throughout the rest of the play.  As she sings we witness her helping her husband give life one more day.  After the tremendous emotion release of the first production and the playful elements of the majority of Here We Go you are left with just your thoughts.  As she hums and he dress you must think.  You start to question.  You start to ask what is next.  You begin to be swayed by that gentle singing/humming.  The lights go down and you are left with only your thoughts.  Just as in life we await the final darkness and have only our own thoughts to prevail.

I highly recommend you take part in this unique experience given by STT.  Besides who doesn’t love 2 for 1 deals!

For more information please go to, Second Thought Theatre.

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