A theater review of “Beloved” at the Road Theatre Company’s Summer Playwrights Festival (SPF12). Written by Arthur Holden and directed by Cameron Watson.
“Beloved” is an unravelling. The story of a long-married couple, Dorothy and Stephen, under the various intense pressures of life familiar to us all. With their business dissolving around them, they are faced with a nightmare scenario, one of many to be conjured up in the darkest corners of a parent’s mind. Their teenage son David is caught downloading child porn at school.
The unfolding of the next couple of years of their lives is told in three parts. As the parents face their own sense of complicity, enabling and sheer willful ignorance, they circle around each other, picking away at what was once love between them, their life and their child crumbling around them.
It’s a tough subject. All of it. And not something I would perhaps call entertainment. But this play is so thoughtfully and sensitively written, each character bold and unwavering in their specificity that the terrifying normalization of the situation they find themselves in echoes round the petrified peripherals of my parental brain. Each beat held to such exquisite effect that the onerous sadness of it all is put in sharp perspective. In fact, without light shed on all of the twists and turns the teenage depths can plunge, how would we ever know them at all? It’s important to face fears, as a parent we all have them, all of the time. Art like this can help us cope with the worst kind of possibility, without hopefully ever having to walk those roads ourselves and in doing so learn.
“Beloved” is wickedly and brilliantly insightful. Told by the parents from their vivid perspective, played without affectation and with the deepest sincerity by Sam Anderson and Taylor Gilbert and with phenomenal support from Cherish Monique Duke who plays several parts to virtuosic effect.
This compelling and heartbreaking story is mesmerizing. The structure is so subtle that is goes unnoticed, letting the actors create the world we all nail-bitingly inhabit for a little over an hour. Even in these small boxes within boxes within screens the aches and the loss and the bewildering lack of choice for these characters is utterly palpable.
How easy it is to lay the blame for the harm we do to each other and ourselves. How easy and how dangerous it is to not accept that blame too, and then to acknowledge that the casual harm is as insidious as the brutal.
It cannot be said enough how grateful we must be that The Road gifts us immeasurably valuable time with artists that are burgeoning, developing and emerging
The Road supports and guides and gives voice to important stories, cherishing their position to be able to do so as much as they cherish their company of actors, their directors and playwrights.
We need more opportunity to share our narratives with each other. Especially during a time like this when isolation is more commonplace than ever before. Quite frankly, sharing anything is a magical experience. But when the darkness falls, we need art more than ever.
You can watch all plays on the Road Theatre’s YouTube channel>>
You can find out all about the festival here: https://nohoartsdistrict.com/noho-theatres/12th-annual-summer-playwrights-festival/
If you can, please donate, help them help us al!!
Tracey Silver, Executive Director
Christian Telesmar, Festival Director
Darryl Johnson, Producer
Ray Paolantonio, Producer
Krishna Smitha, Producer
Tally McCormack, Producer