"In The Heart of America" (Theatre Seven): Dark Swirling Abyss of Armed Forces

"In The Heart of America" (Theatre Seven):  Dark Swirling Abyss of Armed Forces

#45. Last year, Eclipse Theatre celebrated their Naomi Wallace season.  I enjoyed both “One Flea Spare” and “The Trestle at Pope Lick Creek.”  So, I am eager to experience more of Ms. Wallace’s talents.

Theatre Seven presents IN THE HEART OF AMERICA.   Lue Ming is Vietnamese.  She goes to visit America.  She’s looking for the military man who led the massacre on her village.  She runs into Craver.  He IS a soldier but he fought in the Gulf War.  Lue Ming is interested in a guy from the Viet Nam War.  Fawzia is an Arab American.  She is also searching for a soldier, her brother Remzi.  Craver knows what happened to Remzi but he’s not talking.  Boxler has military secrets from both wars but he may be dead.   IN THE HEART OF AMERICA is the dark swirling abyss of armed forces.

Playwright Naomi Wallace penned a political dream play.  Wallace has a lot to say about civilian killings, mutation souvenirs, and hate crimes.  Her characters travel back and forth in time and in life.  Individually, the pieces are intriguing.  Collectively, the puzzle doesn’t quite fit together.  Some of the plot points fascinate but confuse.  Under the direction of Brian Golden, the characters come to life in authentic personas.  I’m very intrigued but a little baffled.  Kaori Aoshima (Lue Ming) is visiting from the past.  I get the tragedy of her personal story.  I’m just unable to decipher the timing of her haunting.  For her part, Aoshima engages with a funny caricature of a woman on a mission.   I can still see her exaggerated walking style…pretty amusing!  Aoshima is memorable but maybe not necessary to the main story.  Nick Vidal (Craver) gives a poignant performance.  Vidal is pure back country white trash. Vidal connects with Anthony DiNicola (Remzi) with companionable simplicity. The buddy bonding to intimate tenderness feels genuine.  The entire ensemble delivers real heartfelt moments.  They just get lost in the jumbling between 1960’s to 1990’s and America to Middle East.

Set Designer Lizzie Bracken blows up the stage with war remnants.  Bracken perfectly mingles a motel wall and the ruins of Middle Eastern-like buildings.  Video Designer Kyle Hamman adds to the battle zone visual.  Hamman projects intermittent military film clips onto the walls.  The look is a powerful reminder of the ageless cycle of violence.

IN THE HEART OF AMERICA is like war.  Good people commit to their roles but the purpose for all the conflict isn’t always clear.                    

Production photograph courtesy of Amanda Clifford.

Running Time:  Two hours includes an intermission and a delayed start.

At Greenhouse Theater Center’s Upstairs Studio, 2257 N. Lincoln

Written by Naomi Wallace

Directed by Brian Golden

Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays at 7:30pm

Sundays at 2:30pm

Thru April 1st 

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