Tribune-Review – While live theater has struggled in the shifting landscape of the pandemic, always-experimental Quantum Theatre has taken the difficulties in stride and created a digital season.
Its current production, “Far Away,” which is available for at-home streaming until March 7, flourishes within the video medium, showing a bleak, abstract portrait of a dystopian society at war with itself and everything in it.
Written by Caryl Churchill, “Far Away” is a compact, 45-minute play in three sections. It follows three characters, Joan, Harper and Todd, through their lives in a hyper-partisan society where everything, even inanimate objects, appear to be embroiled in a life-or-death battle. The characters are forced to confront the ever-shifting moral questions of a spiraling political landscape.
This is not a play for a cozy Saturday night on the couch, but it is a challenging and empathetic piece that sticks in the mind long after the credits roll.
The three actors, Lisa Velten Smith (Joan), Ingrid Sonnichsen (Harper) and Andrew William Smith (Todd), are magnetic in their roles, especially Velten Smith, who deftly acts the subtle earthquakes of several traumatic moments. Sonnichsen, whose decades of acting experience are evident in her multifaceted performance, plays Joan’s aunt, Harper, with contrasting force and compassion. Smith’s Todd is subtle and human, but is the audience’s best surrogate, reaching a broken crescendo by the play’s close.
The dialogue is often subtle, but at other times shocking, and there are sparks and pops of riveting tension. It is important to pay attention to every second, as each moment is crucial in such a short play. This is a time when video is advantageous, giving small-but-crucial transitional scenes the importance they deserve.
Video also allows the play’s creative team more freedom to bring a foreign-but-familiar world to life. The lighting design by Sydney Asselin shines, ranging from the familiar glow of a homey living room on a cold night to the stark bleakness of a city that’s become a battlefield. The musical and sound choices also provide an air of tension and foreboding that heightens the production’s increasingly anxious atmosphere…