Red Garnet Theater presents 'Fen,' Caryl Churchill's drama about the lives of farmworkers in the Fens of East Anglia. More…
In 'Fen,' work is a way of life. This labor is passed down from generation to generation. Numbed by the cyclical nature inherent in managing the day to day, there is no need to look beyond the fields. But when Val, a young mother of two, decides to leave her family for her lover, Frank, her impulsion runs smack into obligation. It's hard to start a new life without leaving the village. There are children to raise. There's always another job to be done. There is barely enough money to live. It does not take long for the bonds of motherhood to bring Val back to the fields. She comes to understand that there is no escaping the Fen. It is both a comfort and a curse.
In a world where roles are fixed and choices are few, 'Fen' follows the interweaving lives of different generations of women, and questions our sense of entitlement as to what life should give us.
"A beautiful piece of writing...Sensitively presented in this excellent production, the play comes to life in an evening of well-wrought storytelling…There is not a weak link in this production. The actors are wonderful — interesting, vulnerable, unique, strong — and their accents are spot-on…From start to finish, this is great theater that speaks to the individual experience of sadness, of dreams, of hope, leaving indelible images that remain with you long after you have left the building." Full Review
"Lynn’s sleek staging optimized the production. The scenes bleed cleanly into one another, rarely allowing dead air. Exploring the less is more theory and utilizing only a handful of props, Lynn was still able to portray a world unfamiliar to the audience...Red Garnet Theater Company has provided a solid production of a strong text. Sure the storytelling took some time to heat up, once it did, the audience was along for the ride." Full Review
"Being unable to understand some of the lines exacerbated the occasional character confusion built into the production’s structure and frustrated me. Fortunately it didn’t happen often enough to break the cumulative spell the play cast. Crisply directed, the production benefits from subtle sound design and effective use of the scant lighting resources. But it’s above all the stellar acting that rockets this revival of one of Churchill’s classic works into the top tier of Off-Off-Broadway acc... Full Review
"Director Patricia Lynn has given the production a robust physicality that suits its setting, and the actors create the sense of a specific world with very little in the way of sets or props. The performances, while gripping and committed, seem a little unfinished. The episodic nature of the play is disorienting, by design, and it falls to the cast to provide a sense of a journey. It’s not quite there, though perhaps as the run continues, it could emerge." Full Review
"In this production (directed by Patricia Lynn) the pastiche of seemingly innumerable characters who were undifferentiated in either costume or affect was only further washed out by unimaginative and too minimal props and set. What’s more, the actors’ mashups of unconvincing 'British' regional and social class dialects lent further confusion to who the characters actually were." Full Review
See it if interested in a dark, meditative critique of perverse, pervasive abuses of power, and its psychological effects. Also, powerful female team.
Don't see it if you're turned off by nonlinear storytelling, have a hard time liking shows you can't easily identify with, or are a men's rights activist.
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