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‘Maple and Vine’ will get misplaced prior to now at Spooky Motion

Initially of Jordan Harrison’s Maple and Vine, now taking part in on the beleaguered Spooky Motion Theater in a good-looking manufacturing deftly directed by Stevie Zimmerman, we uncover a younger married couple, Katha and Ryu, underneath the covers in a double mattress — the place they’ve been mendacity in wait since earlier than the viewers was let in. As Katha and Ryu awaken and play their first scene, we can’t assist however heat to them. They arrive throughout as two very nice individuals who belong collectively like…properly, like two lovers in mattress. Certainly the chemistry between Em Whitworth as Katha and Jacob Yeh as Ryu is so convincing and interesting they may lead us by the center into nearly any storyline and we’d not solely observe gladly, we might care what turns into of them. 

We be taught that although Katha, a publishing govt, and Ryu, a plastic surgeon, are pleased with one another, they’re sad with their Twenty first-century lives. Job life, on-line life, it’s all empty and numbing, and Set Designer Jonathan Dahm Robertson has supplied a boring grey again wall that visually bins them in. Then these two splendidly carried out characters bond us to all of them the extra after we be taught they share a sorrow: Katha miscarried six months in the past. Ryu wish to attempt once more however Katha shouldn’t be able to.

Jacob Yeh as Ryu and Em Whitworth as Katha in ‘Maple and Vine.’ Photograph by DJ Corey Pictures.

What occurs subsequent fully shifts gears. To the tune of dated elevator music (the apt sound design is by Brandon Prepare dinner), a few caricature characters named Ellen and Dean present up proselytizing concerning the glories of life in a cultish group that’s caught again within the Nineteen Fifties — the less complicated “good outdated days” when ladies have been dutiful housewives and males dominated the roost. A saccharine Amanda Tudor as Ellen wears a ’50s frock with a cone-shaped skirt, and a suave and a smarmy Nick DePinto as Dean wears one thing like a zoot swimsuit (the present’s snazzy costumes are by Alison Samantha Johnson). Collectively they make their pitch — on to the viewers, as if we’re their goal recruits — and DePinto does know tips on how to work a crowd. Ultimately, after a muchness of exposition, Ellen and Dean persuade Katha and Ryu to hitch them in what seems to be pre-women’s-lib land. That’s not what they name it, although. It’s the Society for Dynamic Obsolescence.

This plot flip made no sense; for the lifetime of me, I didn’t perceive why Katha and Ryu, whom I assumed I knew, and who I assumed knew one another, would go alongside. However go alongside they did; and as they did, the grey partitions of their trendy bed room parted to disclose their shiny new Nineteen Fifties kitchen in garish colour on the nook of Maple and Vine. 

For the remainder of the play, there have been compelled jokes about politics (“I like Ike”), period-appropriate intercourse (missionary solely), who “wears the pants,” tips on how to make good finger meals for visitors, even post-internment-camp racism (Ryu was born in California to oldsters who’re Japanese). Katha falls headlong into comfortable housewifery. Ryu will get a manufacturing unit job assembling bins. He tries to take pleasure in it. 

Nick DePinto as Dean, Amanda Tudor as Jenna, Em Whitworth as Katha, and Jacob Yeh as Ryu in ‘Maple and Vine.’ Photograph by DJ Corey Pictures.

The ostensible satire, close to as I might inform, was a sendup of each gender roles and the very notion of happiness. However I stored lacking Katha and Ryu. Why had they fallen for this con job?

Then out of the blue, the play pivoted to a storyline about ’50s-era repressed homosexuality: surreptitious assignations, disgrace, the entire schmear. And I’m like, wha’..?

Roger, Ryu’s supervisor on the field line, lures the closeted Dean to a nighttime intimacy, and Dean on the down low leaves his spouse, Jenna, woebegone. Stephen Russell Murray, who earlier performed an entertaining Omar, Katha’s swishy assistant at work, turns in a scary butch-ish efficiency as Roger, and Amanda Tudor additionally does properly double forged as a sympathetic Jenna. In the meantime, I’m considering: How did we get from Ozzie and Harriet to John Rechy?

And what’s to turn out to be of Katha and Ryu, who’ve apparently been deserted by the playwright in service to an unfunny satire that’s much less satisfying than stultifying?

Katha and Ryu have been actually good collectively. Somebody please convey them again in a greater play.

Operating Time: Two hours quarter-hour, together with a 15-minute intermission.

Maple and Vine performs by October 23, 2022, on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday at 8 pm and on Sunday at 3 pm introduced by Spooky Motion Theater acting at at The Universalist Nationwide Memorial Church, 1810 sixteenth Avenue NW, Washington, DC. Tickets ($30 Thursdays and Sundays; $40 Fridays and Saturdays; $20 college students with ID; $5 low cost for seniors 65+) could be bought on-line.

COVID Security: Masks should be worn by all viewers members contained in the theater besides whereas consuming or consuming in designated areas. The usage of N95 masks is inspired.

Maple and Vine by Jordan Harrison
Directed by Stevie Zimmerman

Jacob Yeh: Ryu
Em Whitworth: Katha
Amanda Tudor: Ellen/Jenna
Nick DePinto: Dean
Stephen Russell Murray: Roger/Omar

Manufacturing Supervisor: Matty Griffiths
Set Design: Jonathan Dahm Robertson
Sound Design: Brandon Prepare dinner
Properties Design: Felysia Havens Furnary
Intimacy Director: Cliff Williams
Stage Supervisor: Holly Morgan
Lighting Design: Hailey LaRoe
Costume Design: Alison Samantha Johnson
Assistant Stage Supervisor: Oliva Dibble

Spooky Motion Theater hires Gavin Witt as Richard Henrich retires (information story, September 23, 2022)
Spooky Motion Theater returns to the boards with ‘Maple and Vine’
(information story, September 7, 2022



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