Washington audiences have come to know the feisty communist octogenarian, Vera, in Amy Herzog’s After The Revolution at Theater J…
…and in Herzog’s follow up 4000 Miles (which appeared here in DC first, last spring, at Studio Theatre).
Last night we took in Estelle Parson’s embodiment of the bomb-building 80-something year old, Alexandra, in Eric Coble’s The Velocity of Autumn at Arena Stage. And we’ve just finished reading Clifford Odets’ iconic family play—the play that cements the central theme that runs through American dramatic literature; that the most political institution is, indeed, the family—in his 1935 Awake and Sing, as politics is woven into the fabric of the family and life-choices are inflected with political meaning. Eager to hear how our student subscribers took to Velocity and to detect the reverberations of Herzog’s play upon Coble’s.
Will Coble’s play make it to Broadway next? Earlier reviews are all 5-star enthusiastic. The Post was there a night after opening, together with us, so we’ll soon see what P. Marks says. It’s a tough plot to pull off, no? Do we ever fully believe that Alexandra will blow herself up, her apartment, her Brooklyn city block, and perhaps the entire theater as well, in a multiple Molotov Cocktail triggering? Are the pressures of the offstage siblings who urge that mom vacate the premises and agree to be checked into a nursing home sufficiently felt and clearly dramatized? Stephen Spinella does his heroic best to make us feel that sibling conflict. I’m eager to find out what others feel. There’s a master class of acting going on in this production, to be sure, not only from Parsons, but from the great Spinella as well. Eager to hear which moments specifically impressed.
And finally, eager to hear what we make of the Alexandra-Vera-Jacob connection. Let’s hear a little bit about Odets’ tragic octogenarian. He follows through, in a sense, where Alexandra only threatens… But his is a quieter despair. Whereas she is a loud, surprising (re)affirmation of life. Yes? No?