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Solid Breach overwhelmed by its own subject
Solid Breach overwhelmed by its own subject
by Rajkhet Dirzhud-Rashid - SGN A&E Writer

THE BREACH DIRECTED BY DAVID ESBJORNSON
STARRING JOHN AYLWARD, MICHELOVE RENE BAIN
MICHAEL BRAUN, KELLY CONWAY, CRYSTAL FOX,
WILLIAM HALL, JR., NIKE IMORU,
HUBERT POINT-DU JOUR MICHELE SHAY
SEATTLE REPERTORY THEATRE
THROUGH FEBRUARY 9


The Hurricane Katrina tragedy has virtually gone out of the media's fickle attention, and if not for a similar situation happening here in December with families in Chehalis and those around the Shoreline area suffering from extreme flooding, people outside of New Orleans would probably be happy to move on. Still, there are those who work with the relocation efforts of those who had to leave the hurricane-damaged areas of the 9th ward - the hardest hit in New Orleans - and those who have had to live with the horrible memories of what happened during and after that killer storm. Good material for a play, even while it is not pleasant to deal with, and to be honest the three stories presented in The Breach at The Seattle Repertory Theatre do try to put this tragedy in front of its audience.

That the writers - Catherine Filloux, Tarell McCraney and Joe Sutton - make some attempt at telling the complex stories of not only one group of survivors, but the underlying issues of racism which came into play, is a good thing. Still, after watching the overly long production at its opening last week, I have to wonder if some editing wouldn't help this play. If not, perhaps the play would be served by more focus on the three characters (played by Michelove Rene Bain, William Hall, Jr., and Hubert-Point Du Jour) who represent those survivors who had to cling to rooftops for nearly a week while they awaited government help.

The play also moves between the surreal and the real, as the water that drowned many is given a personality in the form of a seductive, goddesslike figure (Nike Imoru) who acts like the mythical siren, trying to drown one of the survivors: feisty, crippled bartender Mac (John Aylward). This works to some extent, but at times seems a bit overdone and though water was a force to be reckoned with, the stories of the people who died and those who survived get lost at times, while water slinks in and out the twilit scenery. So we don't get to really sympathize with the folks on the roof enough, and we don't get enough of Mac's story, and the tacked-on story of Mac's Iraq vet son leaves us wanting more, so this serves as more of a distraction than anything else.

Basically, The Breach is a good play, one I think of as a work in progress, because I'm not sure the writers, though well intentioned, are able to present all of these stories without some amount of clashing. The back story of a reporter (Michael Braun) who comes to town to get to bottom of the rumor that the levees breaking may not have been an accident probably deserves a play all to itself. Still, the acting is solid, particularly the trio on the roof, and it is interesting watching Nike Imoru in her glittery dress lurk menacingly about the dark set (which includes a pool of water that serves as the whole of New Orleans underwater) like the African water goddess Yemaya come to life. That alone is worth the price of the ticket.

For more information, call: 206-443-2222, or go online to www.seattlerep.org.
 

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