- CHARITY BENEFIT
These words from Jim Henry’s “The 7th Monarch,” playing at the Acorn Theatre on Theatre Row at 410 West 42nd Street until August 9th, will haunt you after you understand their meaning. Part sci-fi, but more of a psychological thriller, the plot will keep your interest, take you by surprise, while breaking your heart and strengthening it. The plot is complicated. Raina, a fraud agent has come to discover who has cashed a series of social security checks. What she discovers is that the daughter of the checks, Miriam is alone and her parents are missing, in their place is a house full of newspapers and a blood-stained rug. Miriam, is in early 30s with the mannerisms of a 13-year-old. Afraid of the number 43, she insists her parents were taken away in a comet. Taken to the police station we learn Miriam has total recall of everything she has ever written. Living in a world of her own, she is comparable to an idiot savant. She is obsessed with anything to do with space. The Sputnik was launched the day she was born and The Challenger crashed on the day, that holds the key to the puzzle. Miriam is also a cutter and when Raina discovers this secret, we learn Riana’s past. Everyone in this play has secrets. The other characters are Grey who is sent to defend her, whose father once ran the DA’s office, Detective Leo Garnes, whose past is the weakest link here. DA Kenneth Stockard, played by the terrific Michael Rupert is running for office and wants to use what he thinks is a murder case, for his own gains. As Miriam keeps speaking about “The Chosen One” and withdraws into her space helmet, she ends up transforming all who she encounters.
As Miriam, Gretchen Hall strikes all the right cords. She is totally believable, childlike and warm. When she reveals Miriam’s secret, we understand every move she has made until then. Leslie Hendrix’s Raina transitions well and handles the change of who is more scared in a way that we leave feeling as if she is the more damaged of the two. Michael Cullen is the week link here, but maybe it is his story line. Matthew Humphreys gives a nice understated approach, but it is Michael Rupert who lavishes in his villainy here. Director Scott C. Embler, lets the piece speak for itself in a raw way. Kudos to the set design, by Shoko Kambara, he cleverly manages to keep the worlds cluttered and sterile at the same time.
This play offer glimpses into characters that may not be who they seem at first glance and is a memorable night of theatre.