Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

July 5, 2017

The Model American

Williamstown Theatre Festival, Williamstown, MA
through July 9
by Jarice Hanson

Photo by Daniel Rader
The World Premiere of Korean-born playwright Jason Kim’s play explores the American Dream; what it means to different people, how it is viewed throughout the world, and how pursuing it affects the human soul.   Director Danny Sharron has created a tight-knit production that unfolds seamlessly, even though each scene has a unique pace and tension.  While the outcome of the play is somewhat expected, the joy in this production is watching the six actors develop their characters and create real people and relationships that challenge our expectations of stereotypical portrayals of the “other.” Rarely are we treated to such honesty in performance.

Every actor is unique and believable, and therefore deserves recognition.  Hiram Delgado as Gabriel is the central protagonist who goes through a metamorphosis in this 95 minute production.  This young actor is someone to watch for—his sincerity and character development is nothing less than outstanding. He’s joined by Laila Robins, a seasoned actress who can raise the bar on innuendo with the raise of an eyebrow.   Maurice Jones as the idealistic boss who followed his own American Dream and Sheria Irving as his sister, whose stint in rehab indicates that siblings often take different direction, create a very believable family unit.  Micah Stock’s physicality as a Westchester slacker provides a perfect counterpoint to the ambitious Gabriel, and Han Jonghoon, who performs both in Korean and English adds to the character-driven drama and makes you wonder if he is channeling the playwright’s own voice.

The play is all about the characters and it takes place on Wilson Chin’s spare, but effective set.  Along with Eric Southern’s lighting design, this production makes you marvel at how such a spare set can lend itself to so many uniquely developed scenes. While I found the predictability of the play somewhat disappointing, I was left with deep appreciation for the way these artists developed this work and gave the audience something to think and talk about. 

This play was developed through the Bill Foeller Fellowship Program at Williamstown Theatre Festival starting in 2016, and it is an excellent example of what can become of great concept, in the hands of talented, hard-working professionals.  I think this play could well have a long, successful life in theatre.