note: entire contents copyright 2012 by Richard Pacheco
“After the Revolution” by Amy Herzog, opens the Gamm’s 2012-2013 season with politics and family in conflict. In the play a leftist, Marxist family finds out that the esteemed patriarch, Joe was not only harassed by the Black List, but in fact passed military secrets on to the Soviets.
The play is set in 1999 and the family has a long history of being Marxists and knows their loyalties. It focuses on Emma, Joe’s granddaughter, Emma, who is devout in her dedication to fight injustices wherever she finds them.
Diana Buirski is Emma, a third generation Marxist who reveres the memory of her dead grandfather, almost canonizing him into a proletariat saint. She loves him so much she started a fund named in his honor to help fight various injustices, such as the battle to save and set free convicted cop killer Mumia Abu-Jamal.
Ms. Buirksi is determined and convincing as the young woman whose world gets turned upside down when she discovers the truth about her grandfather. It is a good performance but ultimately I was left with little sympathy for her character who seemed a bit immature and self-absorbed to involve me in her misery at this discovery.
While the cast is solid, the impact this seems to have on the family appears to be too much fuss. This is the play’s flaw.
Jim O’Brien as her father, Ben, is strong and solid and puts the father’s actions into perspective. It is an admirable performance. When Emma discovers he withheld the spying information about the family icon, Grandfather Joe, she cuts him off, refusing to take his phone calls or talk to him at all.
Casey Seymour Kim is his wife, Mel. She delivers an energetic and nuanced performance. She is full of vitality and sincerity.
Wendy Overly is Emma’s grandmother, Vera. It’s an inspired comic performance full of energy and wit.
Sam Babbitt is Emma’s big supportive contributor, Morty who reassures her and supports her, trying to convince her to hold onto her ideals. He is deft and effective.
Karen Carpenter is Emma’s sister, Jess. Jess has been the outcast child until now after a series or battles with rehab and other difficulties. Yet she proves to be supportive of Emma when she encounters her crisis.
Ben Gracia as Emma’s boyfriend Miguel is firm and appealing. Chuck Reifler is Emma’s sympathetic uncle Leo and is ingratiating and likable.
The cast is strong and convincing. They aptly show the family loyalties and battles with skill and honesty.
Director Tony Estrella keeps everything vivid and ably moving through the emotional twists and turns in the play. He manages to evoke some subtle comic touches with facial moves with finesse. These are refined touches not broad comic touches and are very effective.
Patrick Lynch’s set is clever and inventive. It effortlessly converts into several locations with slight touches, from New York to Boston and back again.
"After the Revolution" runs through Oct. 14 at the Gamm, 172 Exchange St., Pawtucket. Tickets are $36-$45. Call (401) 723-4266, or visit gammtheatre.org