Orange County Theatre Reviews

Written by Daniella Litvak 

You know that famous Tolstoy quote — it’s in the opening line to Anna Karenina, and it goes, “All happy families are like one another; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”  Seeing STAGEStheatre’s production of playwright Nicky Silver’s Raised in Captivity reminded me just how true that quote really is.  

Twins Sebastian (Robert Dean Nunez) and Bernadette (Jamie Sowers) have never had the smoothest of lives.  Things are made worse with the tragic mishap of a loose shower head causing the death of the mother.  Sebastian, who has become emotionally and physically disconnected from everyone, is on a quest to feel something again.  Meanwhile Bernadette is struggling to keep her life together in the wake of husband Kip’s (Christopher Diehl) revelation that he must give up dentistry and become an artist.

I went into the show thinking the story was going to unfold in a certain way but had my expectations completely upended.  I admire the fearlessness of Silver’s plotting –his willingness to take the characters and the audience way, way out of their comfort zones.  The dialogue is funny, snappy and I liked the Shakespearian allusions sprinkled throughout.

RIC06

photo courtesy: STAGEStheatre

The play tries to tackle so many topics, and a lot of different techniques are used to convey it.  However, the techniques are hit-or-miss.  For instance I liked the way the contents of letters are depicted onstage, but the scene with everyone stating their religious backgrounds felt out of place.  The use of so many techniques give the show a gimmicky feeling.

The tone at the beginning is very comedy of manners. However, as the first act progresses it gets darker and darker. It’s chilling. When the show delves into serious subjects it does not try to deflect or soften them with humor.  The first act ends on such a bleak note. 

The second act manages to slip back into the comedy of manners tone without too much of an issue. It’s very likely the intermission made the transition easier.  In general the second act is stronger than the first, it’s more focused and better paced.

The costumes used for Hillary (Chrisi Pedigo), Sebastian’s therapist, are very detailed and it informs the audience of her mental state without a word of explanation.  Still I wish more could have been done to differentiate the play’s various locations.  

All of the actors are superb.  Each of them have tough roles to play, and they rise to the occasion.  Lucas Gust and and Jill Cary Martin make the most of their limited stage time.  Rob Downs showcases his character’s glib and dramatic sides.  It’s fun watching Sower’s react to the latest wrench thrown into Bernadette’s life.  Diehl is wonderful in the role of Kip, who evolves from an innocently funny milquetoast to a passionate, pretentious (but still funny) artist.  Pedigo throws herself into the role of Hillary, resulting in a great performance.

Raised in Captivity isn’t perfect, but it is an experience.

March 4th – April 3rd

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My Review
8.6 Overall
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Summary
Raised in Captivity isn’t perfect, but it is an experience
Story8
Acting10
Set & Design8.5
Costumes8.5
Entertainment8
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