Photos by Roger Trigg
Above, from top: T. Ryder Smith, Jeff Jenkins, Mark Ziesler; T. Ryder Smith and Carolyn Baeumler; Carolyn Baeumler, T. Ryder Smith; T. Ryder Smith, Jeff Jenkins, Mark Ziesler; same; same: same; ensemble; ensemble.
Excerpts from the reviews
“A blistering, exhilarating drama of sexual politics, staged with whirlwind intensity and inventiveness by Les Waters and performed at white heat by a superb cast. . . The tension generated in T. Ryder Smith’s awkward wooing of Baumler is haunting. . . . The cataclysmic wedding ceremony – cake-cutting erupting into mass slaughter – comes as a horrifically entertaining release.” Robert Hurwitt, The San Francisco Examiner
“Giddy collisions between pop culture references and mythic-sized themes about male-female relations, U.S. cultural imperialism, and the power of human love. . . . Under Les Waters’ beautifully modulated direction, a bravura cast creates a dynamic war between the sexes. Most spectacular are the two sequences in which the [characters] propel themselves around the stage with abandon, as if driven by unseen forces . . . “ John Istel, The Village Voice
“The Festival’s most striking offering . . . Mee riffs on what may be the oldest surviving play of the Western canon, ‘The Suppliant Women’, by Aeschylus. In it 50 Grecian brides about to be taken by force by 50 grooms flee their homeland and seek refuge . . . The men come after them. The women decide to organize . . . A terrific production, played wonderfully.“ Michael Phillips, The Los Angeles Times
“Among the Festival highlights was ‘Big Love’ . . . it is staged on a wrestling mat because the actors are called upon to hurl themselves about in a remarkably vigorous fashion; in twin set pieces, one with three women, one with three men, the actors enact a fiercely violent ballet, with bruising collisions and falls, conducted to screaming speechifying . . . the primordial, communal twitch of loins and heart has rarely been so viscerally acted out.“ Bruce Weber, The New York Times
“Brilliant . . . The direction . . . was catharsis-inducing . . . The cast of nine was fabulous . . . T. Ryder Smith . . . has the haunted features of a great poetic actor; his souls lights up his face.” Erin Blackwell, San Francisco Frontiers magazine
“Naive and wise, primal and sophisticated, dead serious and hilarious, Mee’s retelling of ‘The Suppliants’ was the best of the Fest. . . . Mee’s quirky, moving script was exquisitely played by a troupe of actors that seemed like a budding SITI company in their skill and flexibility.” Rich Copley, The Lexington Herald-Examiner
Above, from top: T. Ryder Smith, Jeff Jenkins, Mark Ziesler; Aimee Guillot, Aimee Hayes, Pascaline Bellegarde, Karenjune Sanchez; Chuck Mee.