Perhaps it was for the best that I knew absolutely nothing about Interrobang Theatre Company’s current show Here We Are when walking into the theatre. I had grown apprehensive about seeing any more productions that attempted to dramatize Amelia Earhart after sitting through one too many that all failed miserably. I had begun to think a successful stage adaptation of her story would never be produced. Interrobang Theatre Company’s production of Jen Diamond’s Here We Are proved me completely wrong!
Here We Are begins in death. A woman who loves to fly is dead and the character of Death wishes to marry her since he has never gotten the chance to marry a woman pilot before. In exchange for letting him marry her, Amelia demands that death erase the memory of her existence from the world so people cannot take control of her story. She wants it to only be hers. The only way he can do this is by making her relive her worst moments on earth so he can then bottle them up and eat them. We are then led through all of Amelia’s worst memories as one by one Death eats them, slowly erasing her memory from the world of the living.
Jen Diamond has crafted perhaps one of the best original scripts I have reviewed in Baltimore to date. It is a textbook example of a well-crafted text. There is a constant forward action that is crisp and precise. The characters are fully realized and three dimensional. The plot structure is unique and infinite in possibilities. I constantly found myself literally leaning forward on the edge of my seat in anticipation of what was going to come next. What is perhaps most enchanting about Diamond’s script is that she doesn’t pull any surprises. It’s not about what happens but about how it happens, and the way she unfolds the narrative is superb and completely engaging.
The three actors making up the cast each gave nuanced performances to match the layers of the text. David Brasington played the character of Death with a sly mischievousness. He was disarming and dangerous all at once, effortlessly popping back and forth between making us laugh and making us afraid.
Mani Yangilmau as Amelia delivered a tour de force performance. By the end of the show we could see the toll the journey took on their character, a strength and a tiredness radiated from them. They had complete physical and emotional control of the character and had us in the palm of their hand.
Griffin Delisle as Person Doll, the shell of a person Death animates to play the other people in Amelia’s memories as she acts them, is the surprise breakthrough of the show though. Delisle delivered multiple different characters, each vibrantly unique with distinct physical and vocal qualities. It was stunning to watch him switch from character to lifeless form and back to character again with such ease.
Tying the whole production together was director Sean McComas. McComas led the production to the soaring success that it is. The pacing of the show was orchestrated effortlessly and clipped along never dragging, while also finding time to breathe. The staging was sparse yet effective and the character work he got out of the actors was breathtaking.
SHOULD I STAY OR SHOULD I GO? Here We Are is a rare theatrical triumph that succeeds on almost every level. A stellar cast and production team with a script that succeeds at making an epic story immensely personal, while also managing to make a personal story adventurous and epic, this is not a show to miss. And running only an hour and fifteen minutes, there’s no reason not to see it! (B)
Running through November 17th at Fells Point Corner Theater.