Theater reviews: “Reykjavik” at The Road Theatre

"REYKJAVÍK" Brian Ibsen, Carlos Lacamara, Stephen Tyler Howell, Alaska Jackson

“Reykjavik” theater review at The Road Theatre Company
Written by Steve Yockey
Directed by Ann Hearn Tobolowsky

“Reykjavik” is the second show in the Road Theatre Company’s 2021 virtual season.  Their fantastic live recorded performance format gives us the best possible seat in the house, using four cameras and seamless live editing to give us the best of both worlds. The immediate intimacy of a live performance and the ability to move around within the production, moving in, moving out, to better experience the actors in their most defining medium.  They don’t use the cameras formatively at all and it never seems to distract from the story, merely heightening the connections between actor and actor and actor and audience.  The effect is mesmerizing and by far the best virtual theatrical productions I have seen thus far.  

"REYKJAVÍK" at The Road Theatre.
“REYKJAVÍK” at The Road Theatre. Jacquleline Misaye, Brian Ibsen, Stephen Tyler Howell, Alaska Jackson.

But then, The Road always pushes every production they do, virtual or traditional, to be its absolute ultimate self. They choose plays that extend our understanding of theatre, of story, of relationships, and of the magical nature of art.

In this sense, “Reykjavik” is a perfect choice for The Road.  A group of short pieces all set in Reykjavik, Iceland, all centered around love and passion and death and all the ways those three themes always, inevitably intersect.  The playwright, Steve Yockey, is the Golden Globe nominated creator and executive producer of the HBO Max series “The Flight Attendant,” as well as being an extremely prolific playwright and a graduate of the marvelous Tisch School of the Arts.  So, you know, he knows what he’s doing.

"REYKJAVÍK" at The Road Theatre
“REYKJAVÍK” at the Road Theatre. Brian Ibsen, Danny Lee Gomez.

I love how precarious “Reykjavik” is. How tenuous the threads are that weave the parts of it together and yet, how completely those threads connect.  

There’s a strong sexual vibe throughout, some of it dangerous, some of it romantic, all of it absolutely believable and relatable and necessary to the story.  The actors navigate all of it with class and care and a searing kind of openness, as if to them no one was watching.  I can only imagine how tricky it is to be intimate and tender in front of an audience.  So bravo to them for creating such a safe openness for all of us to feel what they feel.

The Road Theatre Company’s casting is outstanding.  Vivid, almost unbearably, heartbreakingly bold and raw and real.

The director, Ann Hearn Tobolowsky, whose work I so admired on “Through The Eye of a Needle,” is brilliant enough to allow the actors all the space they need to grab us by the heart and mind emotionally.  She seems to deftly guide them, tricking us all into feeling as if she hasn’t done much at all. Very clever. 

Of course, the sets and lights and sound design are all superb, I would expect nothing less from this serious and poetically buoyant company.

"REYKJAVÍK" at the Road Theatre. Alaska Jackson, Jacqueline Misaye, Stephen Tyler Howell, Danny Lee Gomez.
“REYKJAVÍK” at the Road Theatre. Alaska Jackson, Jacqueline Misaye, Stephen Tyler Howell, Danny Lee Gomez.

Each play another glittering jewel in their box of theatrical tricks.  “Reykjavik” is an exquisite play, truly. Its magical realism seems the perfect fit for stories set in a world so different from our own.  

All black beaches and green mountains and steaming hot water. As if every element is really existing as its opposite.  So maybe that’s the magic of the place and why these strange, compelling, devastating and savage stories fit so very well there.

Reykjavik” is playing virtual and live each night of the run as a video available to rent for 24 hours, extended through June 27. TICKETS>>

Cast

Stephen Tyler Howell as James, also Hank, also Ebon
Alaska Jackson as Debbie, also Lydia, also Ambiance Sister, also Ingrid, also One of the Huldufolk
Carlos Lacamara as Grigor, also Leo, also Aaron
Brian Ibsen as Martin, also Ross, also Robert, also Man in the Down Coat
Danny Lee Gomez as Peter, also Mike, also Davey, also One of the Huldufolk Jacqueline Misaye as Naomi, also Lil, also Ambiance Sister, also Valerie 

Crew

Director – Ann Hearn Tobolowsky 
Producers – Danna Hyams & Taylor Bryce Gilbert 
Assistant Director – Meeghan Holaway 
Stage Manager – Maurie Gonzalez 
Marketing and Production Manager – Emily Jerez 
Paul Dufresne – Set Design 
Derrick McDaniel – Light Design 
Yasmine El-Tayeb – Sound Design 
Mary Jane Miller – Costume Design  
Darryl Johnson – Technical Director 
Nicholas Santiago – Projection Designer 
Kaitlin Huwe – Music Coordinator 
Stephanie Erb – Property Master 
Ruman Kazi – Production Assistant 
Kris Frost – COVID Compliance Officer 

Samantha Simmonds-Ronceros
Author: Samantha Simmonds-Ronceros

Samantha Simmonds-Ronceros is a Theatre and Food Writer and Filmmaker living in Los Angeles.