On a frigid Saturday after battling train delays and eventually getting saved by a crafty lyft driver, I was impressively on time at The New Ohio Theater. The atmosphere was warm and welcoming the employees and my fellow audience members were chatty and it was easy to decompress and allow my brain to settle in to receive the experience that awaited me.
As soon as the first words were spoken we were believably and effortlessly transported back in time to a completely different era. The air seemed dustier and cool; the energy began lightly chaotic. The characters were funny and complicated from the very beginning. They almost literally grab your hand make you laugh some and then pull you through a story and the light chaos becomes loud and heavy, sprinkled with sword fights weighted with personal and political strife.
THE BRUTES, written by Casey Wimpee, brings us the famed Booth brothers on the even of their only time on stage together and the eve of an even more historic event. spit&vigor’s timing is great. They hand us the story of a family on the verge of divided, re-enacting the Shakespearean tale of a nation divided during a time when the nation is divided as a parable for our current … well, you get the point.
The powerhouse cast of Adam Belvo, Chris Cornwell, Sara Fellini, Colt W. Keeney, Morgan Zipf-Meister, Eamon Murphy, Becca Musser, Pete Oliver, Xandra Leigh Parker, Harlan Short, Nicholas Thomas, and Perri Yaniv acted as a greek chorus and brought the mood and the story to great heights.
I didn’t find an emotional bond with any single character as much as I experienced this as more of a visitor, an invisible watcher of a situation heavy with ego, fear and anger. The political unrest that was tearing the Booth family apart aligned with the story line of Julies Caesar and I enjoyed how that made the story multi-layered and conveyed how much we haven’t changed as humans.
The show, in its entirety, spoke strongly to our country’s current unrest and even the need to ignore it and dwell on the past. It dropped me off with a open, unanswered ending that is anxious and honest, reminding us that this isn’t the first time we have done this with our politics, our disagreements, our need to win.
You leave feeling rattled, contemplative and I find myself still learning and taking away from my experience. This isn’t a simple or easy show, this show is meaty and raw in its humanity and in it’s a timeliness.
This is a brave undertaking by Spit & Vigor and begs for a long dinner conversation over a stiff drink.