Contemporary American Theater Festival 2023: 2

The four-sided Marinoff is the de rigueur venue for one-on-one prison conversations (see 2017’s We Will Not Be Silent), not to mention rumbly room tone (David Remedios’ sound design), and hence Chisa Hutchinson’s Redeemed finds its place there. In this instance, Trevor (Doug Harris), a white man imprisoned for beating an Asian man to death, is up for parole; he also has a book proposal for agent Claire (Elizabeth Sun), who (it just so happens) is the sister of the man Trevor killed.

While Sun’s Claire makes some nonobvious points (very forcefully) about the power relationships between whites and Asians, it’s also the case that most would find it impossible to find common ground with someone so angry. The open-ended conclusion of the play is legitimate, so far as it goes, but the narrative’s final twists are a cop-out. Wouldn’t it be more interesting if Trevor were completely sincere?

Jeffrey Lieber’ s Fever Dreams (of Animals on the Verge of Extinction) inaugurates the friendly confines of the Shepherdstown Opera House as a CATF venue. The set, a cabin in the woods, fits well in the snug space (a small problem with masking for those of extreme house left). A three-hander with shades of Harold Pinter, the story is driven by withheld information and flirts with the possibility of alternate timelines. There’s a neat (and quite loud) cliffhanger to end the first act. The tidbits of biological research offered by Adele don’t resonate as much as the song that Miller remembers hearing when the three first met: Pat Benatar’s “Love Is a Battlefield.”

  • Contemporary American Theater Festival at Shepherd University, Shepherdstown, W. Va.
  • Redeemed, by Chisa Hutchinson, directed by marcus d. harvey
  • Fever Dreams (of Animals on the Verge of Extinction), by Jeffrey Lieber, directed by Susan V. Booth