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REVIEW: ‘Red Cross'

REVIEW: ‘Red Cross'

Arrive. Devise. Repeat presents an intriguing interpretation, with incredibly strong performances, of Samuel Shepard’s minor work Red Cross. Red Cross is a one-act play about a couple, Jim and Carol, who are living in a cabin in the woods. Jim has the STI crabs and when the maid comes to tidy their cabin he shows her. Jim and the maid discuss her life, his crabs and he tries to teach her to swim. This is the premise of Red Cross that is admirably performed by independent theatre company Arrive. Devise. Repeat.

The play begins with Carol (Emma Throssell) and Jim (Henry Hulme) onstage. Both actors give a great effort in performing their characters. However, they are fighting a losing battle. Shepard’s play is one that revels in bizarreness. It is often labeled as ‘absurdism’ but there seems to be little existentialism behind the mad imagery Shepard employs to justify this claim. Throssell and Hulme have a fine chemistry when together and must be applauded for their admirable attempt at bringing to life Shepard’s script.

Genevieve Muratore deals best with Shepard’s language by using a heightened playing style. Muratore uses her whole body as a comic instrument which injects the middle part of the play to life. She nails Shepard’s rhythms in a perfect American accent and beautifully hints at the pain the maid suffers in her day to day life.

Director Victor Kalka has once again harnessed the space at the Off-Broadway Hub and exploited its intimacy to fantastic effect. Kalka has underscored  much of the action with sound design by Patrick Devlin deepening the characterizations of the characters. For instance, Carol’s speech is accompanied by a low pitched buzz, highlighting the monotony of her life to Jim. The maid is underscored by a bumbling 1940s jazz score to show that she is the comic element of the play.

This is a strong revival of a strange, and surprisingly comic, play in the oeuvre of Samuel Shepard. All the performers should be applauded for their aptitude and ability at handling Shepard’s difficult and often wordy prose. Victor Kalka directs a strong production of a rather strange Shepard play.

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