Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

February 27, 2019

REVIEW: Playhouse on Park, The Revolutionists

Playhouse on Park, West Hartford, CT
through March 10, 2019
by Shera Cohen

Congratulations to Playhouse on Park’s (POP) on its 10th anniversary season. Over the years, POP’s triumvirate co-founders (Tracy Flater, Sean Harris, and Darlene Zoller) have presented an array of dramas and comedies, straight plays and musicals, old chestnuts and new works. For the most part, and the reason that single ticket buyers soon become subscribers, is the excellent quality, talent, and purpose of the plays. Skilled staff, both onstage and backstage, can always be depended upon.

POP does nearly everything right to create a fine production of “The Revolutionists.” The major element of what makes a play the best it can be is the ability of a director to present a full story from the opening line to the final curtain. Any theatre-goer knows that the actors, crew (a very long list of highly skilled individuals), and even those at the concession stand help to make a theatre experience important and memorable to the audience. POP has all of this good stuff.

Photo by Meredith Longo
Yet, even with POP’s skills on every level, it seems unlikely that no theatre could produce this particular play to audience satisfaction. In the Spotlight’s review criteria purposely omits critique of the text – that’s a given, and it is the production that is considered. However, here is an exception, the reason being to essentially not kill the messenger - in this case, POP. Apparently, the playwright’s record of success is broad, but this work by Lauren Gunderson is not up to the level of POP’s abilities. Big question: why did POP select this play?

As a tragi-comedy, the play’s story does not ring true, which is especially odd because three of its four characters were actual people living at the time of the French Revolution. The contemporary language stuffed with numerous and unnecessary expletives mixed with that of 18th century semi-aristocratic conversations. The play would have had a decent start had it been a drama throughout. At the very least, if the writer meant “The Revolutionists” to be a comedy, then stick with it.

Three plays round out the second half of POP’s 2018-19 season. In spite of what is written above, Playhouse on Park is worth a trip.