Without Mercy

Off Broadway West has once again produced the kind of dramatic experience I want to have: Deeply committed characters reinventing themselves from moment to moment, making the time a watershed of their lives and the evening an event in my memory. 

In Without Mercy, Joanna toughens up to survive the fatal collisions within her family.  She challenges chaos by demanding that her narrative dominate the conversation.  But Bethany has her own story as does a Sam, a counselor trying to serve the mother and daughter.  They maneuver for position and throw their moral and political lightning bolts across the room, trying to tell the myth that everyone must repeat. 

Richard D. Harder directs Sylvia Kratins, as Joanna Parks (mother), Niki Yapo-Held as Bethany Mathews (daughter) and Ian Walker as Sam Sibley (lawyer).  After watching movies and TV, live stage is a multidimensional experience.  The intimate space of the Phoenix places you in the living room of a family in crisis.  Live theatre is the best!

Patricia Milton’s script embraces and then leaves behind a common theme, that of the salient individual against society, trying to blossom forth into the world, blocked by family or job or government or internalized trauma, finally coming into being by action and idea after a struggle with obstacles. 

But there can be no blossoming forth as Bethany and Sam unmask Joanna again and again.  They insist on their story but Joann is resourceful.  The alliance between Bethany and Sam breaks down in disagreement.  Each of the characters tries to turn their mutually shared experience into an exclusive personal heroic saga starring 1 person.  No one is allowed to win.   

The script has classical overtones.  The actors don’t use physical masks but play as though they had trunkfuls.  The performance is a competition among hubris-bearing mortals contributing to their own fatal and fateful undoing.  The off-stage press echoes the chorus.  With the ghosts of the dead daughter and father lurking off-stage, it looks a lot like The Libation Bearers with  lawyers playing the Furies and the chain of incest and murder ending in a trial in which the individual surrenders authority to community.

Without Mercy is an Off Broadway West Theatre Company production.  8 PM curtain Thursdays, Fridays & Saturdays.  3 PM Sunday Matinee March 12Closes March 25, 2017.  

The Phoenix Theatre, 414 Mason Street, 6th Floor, San Francisco (between Geary & Post). No bad seats in this 55-seat venue!  $40 General Admission. TBA, Senior, Student & Group Discounts Available
Advance Tickets1-800-838-3006 or www.offbroadwaywest.org.   510-835-4205 or info@offbroadwaywest.org  www.Facebook.com/OBWTC Don't keep it a secret.  "Like" us on Facebook!

OBWTC is an award-winning, non-profit 501(c)(3) San Francisco theatre company in its 10th Theatre Season.