Watching the unravelling of a lie makes for a fascinating story. A tech company, on the brink of an amazing and hard-fought discovery, a solution to the world’s horrific plastic problem, encounters an obstacle of truth.
A partnership between a scientist and a CEO, founded when they met in college, breaks down in one evening as they prepare for a libel trial the following day where they are suing their former mentor for declaring their discovery a fraud. The arc of the play begins with the CEO, played with demented politeness and Machiavellian ease by the brilliant Allison Blaize. She’s in her office, it’s late, although apparently not unusually late for her to be working. She complains that her assistant has left and fires her via HR for the crime. She is ruthless, manic in her self importance and visceral in her revenge for the slightest of infringements, and her grip vice-like on the company she alone has built. Although, it wasn’t entirely alone. Her partner, the scientist, sweet, studious, equally brilliant and bullied and manipulated into submission. Played with aching twists of conscience and earnestness by the lovely Paris Perrault.
They battle. Over the lawsuit that the scientist wonders is quite necessary. Over the application of the science and just how ready they are to proceed. Over loyalty and a lack of it. Over the CEO trying to manipulate the scientist to her will. As if will alone can make a lie a truth.
In the end, it takes a journalist to hold the mirror up, played by Samantha Tan, who enters the story late with information given to her by people working at this company. She out maneuvers the CEO masterfully, teasing out her plot twist as expertly as an inquisitor. It’s truly masterful. And, as it always goes when those who believe they are impenetrable and uniquely entitled are faced with their absolute demise, it’s brutal and chilling to watch, even as we should delight in it.
All three actors are perfectly cast. Each brings tension and combat and chess like moves of searing and astonishing guile. It’s an all or nothing kind of night. And the air is thick with it.
The Road Theatre Company’s “Burst” is an absolutely gorgeous play. Riveting, in fact. Like watching a car crash or the fall of an empire or someone at the end of everything try and try and try again to escape. I’m reminded of that scene in the film “Michael Clayton” where Tilda Swinton gets caught. Unable to talk her way out of her impending doom. Sweaty. Dry mouthed. Totally convinced that she will win and knowing that she can’t. That kind of sublime defeat is delicious to watch and this play is exactly that. Delicious doom, undeniable defeat. The gods losing.
“Burst” is excellent writing by Rachel Bublitz. I would love to see this play produced. I would love to watch these actors in person tell this story, to watch the winner lose, the quiet win and the devil squirm.
Yet again, the Road have outdone themselves with an astonishing line up of playwrights. Yet, it’s a shame we couldn’t see them in the flesh But, I’m so glad that we can at least watch online and celebrate their brilliance. Bravo!
Sarah Boyd: Allison Blaize
Jennifer Weaver: Paris Perrault
Alexis Lyons: Samantha Tan