Liberty City, New York Theatre Workshop

Rattler’s actor and friend Richard Watson and I took in Liberty City at New York Theatre Workshop on a Thursday or so ago, and I have been wanting to blog about it ever since. Thankfully, Aaron Riccio has said many of the wonderful things I’d like to say here. It is a lovely and hard play about the decay of a community through the prism of a fascinating family, and you should see it.

What I can add is my ongoing wonder at the mystery of possession: that rare moment in a theatre where you so accept the reality of the actor-in-character that there is no distance between them. This is something more than suspension of disbelief, something grander than just good or even great acting; and while a strong plot is often the engine for revealing this possession, something else is at work. It is as if, for a moment, the rule of one body per life are suspended, and you see the miracle of metamorphosis before your eyes. When April Yvette Thompson plays the character of her father, that shape-soul-shift happens, and it is made all the more shocking because she is a young woman, and her father, allegedly one character of many.

This was especially neat, because before we went into the theatre, Richard talked about wanting to put the role of Everett (his role in Johnna Adam’s Rattlers) on like a suit and walk through the city wearing him. For those readers who were at the Flux Sunday where he read Everett for the first time, you will remember this itself was the beginning of a possession. I look forward to seeing it through.

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