South Florida Theatre is undergoing a change… or at least that is what the evolving audience should hope for.
With smaller companies like LakeHouseRanchdotPNG, that change is at its most present. Having just made it to their second season, this small but growing theater company is still making strides in going against the grain that is South Florida theatre. They do this by not only choosing experimental and absurdist plays for their season, but by operating as a playwrights theatre, something you don’t see enough of within the community. All of their work comes from new, exciting, and challenging playwrights – a mission that not only expands the outreach of the community, but in a way might also alienate certain audiences… and maybe that’s okay.
Artistic Director Brandon Urrutia is here to tell us that it’s okay.
To start off their second season they open with Plague Play written by Erin Proctor and directed by Brandon Urrutia. A retelling of the 10 plagues of Egypt (for those that don’t know this is a bible story), Plague Play gives perspective into the guilt ridden minds of those who were said to deliver the plagues, Aaron and Moses.
With a small cast of four, each character is given a moment to shine in one way or another, and these actors tackle those moments with ease.
The playwright combines contemporary language with what feels like a stylistic stab at prose that at times places the characters in this biblical period. With each plague comes a new scene, working as vignettes, each one guiding us through the turmoil of these four characters from the familial bonds with brothers Moses(Kyran Wright) and Aaron(Jedhi Weir), to the almost romantic with Moses and his wife Tzipporah(Lucy Marie Lopez).
Jedhi Weir, Kyran Wright, Ruki Etti
Wright gives us a Moses you can be best friends with, the kind of person you want to back you up no matter where you go, while also showing moments of authenticity and vulnerability.
Weir portrays Aaron as a man in constant battle with himself and what he is a part of. At times it seems like he has nowhere to go, but then balances that in the quiet moments.
Lopez brings love into the space as Tzipporah. Her private conversations with Moses might be one sided at times but you see the love that is there, and especially with Miriam, who is grounded by Etti.
While the play requires background knowledge of these stories to fully grasp the significance, we find ourselves connected to these characters and the way they navigate dealing with crisis. Through each terrifying plague, Proctor has made sure to lighten the load with humor sprinkled on top, which keeps the audience away from some deep dark dive.
Ruki Etti, Jedhi Weir, Kyran Wright, Lucy Lopez
Urrutia takes on the task of recreating the plagues without the blessing of a robust budget, and he finds creative and fun ways to make them come to life for all those in the intimate space of Artistic Vibes. With a simple but effective set design by Indy Sulliero, the plagues truly come to life – from little plastic frogs literally hopping out of the single flat to a projection of locusts that fills the space.
Without giving too much away, this is a play to catch if only for the innovative ways in which the space, light, and sound are used.
Plague Play draws you in with its charming and haunting tale. As a world premiere it is a play that feels like it has more life to give with further development, which will only give audiences more chances to fall in love with it.
LakeHouseRanchDotPNG is a theater company that shows us how brave we can be in a place where “different” feels discouraged in a community that so often sits comfortably within the traditional, and standard.
Ruki Etti and Lucy Lopez