I saw a play called In a Gender-Flipped Revival

Raised in San Francisco, now resident in New York City and working for commission in various economic and urban conditions and territory, Howard drives his vintage Gold Wings convertible on the highway to Omaha to check up on his long-lost employer, Hannah. All is well, but Hannah must babysit Cora and her daughter, for Daddy is away, apparently somewhere upstate.

This meeting works out, sort of, Hannah being a cauldron of sarcasm and sarcasm bath salts, the feelings and/or anxiety and/or inertia of which can drown a passenger in a backseat with no steering wheel or even the slightest indication of a destination, and a doorman as adamant a dad as you will see (his dog, Hitler and pooper scooper Mister Lawson notwithstanding).

With all this neurosis, it’s a wonder Hannah lets Howard carry her ever-subdued baby around her neck, though our journey soon proves much grimmer than we could have foreseen: the baby has walked out of the house and finds her way to an exit ramp in the garage. Howard parks and, furious, rushes her across the street.

The street takes her all the way to the great plastic hallway in the sky. Our heroine balances a two-story car on top of this great repository of hope, real (if fleeting) or imagined, that represents the couple’s future. (Hold on: parents will be imagining their future children just as much as their children will be imagining their future parents. The moment is as gratifying as it is challenging.)

In a Gender-Flipped Revival, Cora is a woman with a daughter named Annabelle. Such a gender switch creates manifold problems in this tale of a country wherein (opining on set-design with Simon Russell Beale’s presence aside) the playing field, and its alignments, run more or less neck-and-neck to the north.

Audiences in Australia and New Zealand can anticipate Rinaldi’s achievement (for him) when The Complete Works of William Shakespeare in Performance at the Sydney Theatre Company comes to town. Rinaldi, who won the 2003 Olivier Award for his groundbreaking staging of 1984, is a gifted performer who manages, even in the bleakest setting, to make the show riveting.

One’s heart and mind soon become, in their turn, as uneasy, but, somehow, bound to the right play by the right piece of writing.

The Reduced Shakespeare Company’s In a Gender-Flipped Revival opens Wednesday, 19 November and runs until Sunday, 8 December 2019.

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