LOGAN — interACT (X2) is an interesting theatrical event presented this year by Lyric Repertory company, a collection of new plays in progress, where the audience members are invited to interact with the creators and provide feedback during the post show talkback and discuss thoughts about the creative process and look at the journey of making a show.
Directed by Eric Ruffin, the production stars Sage Fortune and Kevin E. Thorne II, who worked to develop their respective shows as part of their senior projects in the theatre program at Howard University. Now, the two have been invited by Lyric Repertory to develop the works further and gain insight from their audience on their shows.
Step Into My Mind is a one person show by Thorne that takes the audience into the thoughts of a young man working to come out to his family as bisexual while also struggling with the challenges of an unexpected relationship. Thorne had an amazing presence on the stage where he not only told a story with words, but with movement and grace. I was impressed to see that choreography was taking center stage in a non-musical one man monologue production, but the dance and movement were perhaps my favorite element of Thorne’s haunting tale.
Additionally, the lighting design by Bruce Duerden was spell-binding, as it helped convey the character’s intense emotion.
A one-person show is an intensely challenging feat because of the physical wear on the actor, as well as the added difficulty of remaining in focus enough to keep the audience engaged. Thorne was not only able to accomplish this with great ability, but he was able to connect in such a way that during the talkback two different audience members mentioned wanting to say that they wanted to be the loving, accepting family members the character needed.
I was also impressed by the sheer challenge that both of these actors had of keeping the audience riveted and engaged throughout their pieces.
In She Remembers, a trip on an airplane turns into an allegorical festival interlaced with beauty and tragedy. The result leaves the audience wondering just who is in charge and what are they doing with their power. Fortune was so precise with her body movements that at several moments during the show that I could almost feel the turbulence of the plane. And when she would continually point out the differences between first class and coach, my comfortable seat at the Lyric Theatre seemed to feel tighter and tighter.
Ruffin has taken a great deal of time and effort to work with both actors to learn to connect with character and develop storyline that it was hard to believe that these productions were considered works in progress. I would have considered both to be developed stories and had little to say for improvement. Still, I enjoyed the post-show discussion and learning about the process of the actors in developing the show and learning and growing through the development.
I also enjoyed learning from the new Lyric Artistic Director Paul Mitri that this type of production is something that Lyric Repertory is committed to continuing as part of their continuing season, as it is a chance for theatre goers to gain a new perspective on the development of theatre. Whereas many other theater companies in Utah have a tendency to stick with familiar shows, it is wonderful to see Lyric Repertory branch out with new works and unfamiliar works. interAct (X2) will give a place for new creators to have the spotlight, as well as giving audiences the chance to see and learn from innovative productions.
interAct (X2) runs at about 60 minutes, and the talkback lasted about 20 minutes. There was no intermission. There was some adult content, and the company has given the show the equivalent of an R rating.