Particularly in the Heartland (5 stars)

  • 7 August 2006

This article is from 2006

No one but a person in denial of the current political world could find what happens in the USA anything but intriguing in this day and age. The rituals and traditional institutions of its dark interior, bent by manipulative forces these days toward a kind of ideological lunacy about religion and expansionism that many of us fear and render into a simplistic otherness, is what the splendid TEAM engages with here. This vital young company has more sense than to condemn out of hand the mindset of middling rural Kansas. Instead, this piece explores, with alternate tender nuance and boisterous childish joy the reasons why these folk believe in such things as The Rapture and the literal truth of the bible.

Go with the idea of Robert Kennedy dug up and coming back to life in a farmyard (Jake Margolin), an East Coast sophisticate visited upon the place by a plane crash (Jessica Almasy) and a kind of single mother space alien (Jill Frutkin) all playing parenting roles to three Dickensian orphans of the Midwest (Brian Hastert, Libby King, Kirsten Sieh) and you might find yourself enraptured too, but by a far more questioning discourse than that supplied by America’s infamous Left Behind books. Here, there is no condemnation of individuals, and as the three religious children enter what they think will be a post lapsarian apocalypse, each instead grows with their mentor, who in turn learns.

The intense physical style of this company, with swinging from ropes and egg throwing all part of the fun, is an instrument by which some smart and not easily answered questions about neo conservative ideology can be broached. Rachel Chavkin’s production uses a constant rapid accumulation of infantile glee to break down ideological inhibitions, and interrogates its audience with a charm that no ogre could resist. Perfectly performed, aesthetically and politically complex, this is - for this reviewer - the most profound and complete night at the theatre of the Festival so far. Cry childishly and loudly if you can’t get in. (Steve Cramer)

Traverse, 228 1404, until 27 Aug (not 14, 21), times vary, £12.50 (£9).