Theatre Mirror Reviews - "The Promise"

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note: entire contents copyright 2005 by Sarah Azarnova

Foul Weather Friends

Reviewed by Sarah Azarnova

Once more, with feeling: mind over matter! (and dont' forget, Kant told you so).

The Promise, the latest production by Lilia Levitina on the stage of BCA (runs 'till Feb.5) based on a very well preserved (although, almost forgotten) play by Alexei Arbuzov, crashes nearly all our concepts of now and then, time and place, 'them and us'. In short, it rocks. It certainly rocked my world, not only because the director's and the actors' work is inspired, but because it proved for me one more time that our souls are more connected than our bodies.

The play takes place over the period of 15 years in war-ridden and post-war stirred-and-shaken Leningrad and depicts the lives of three young people who try very hard to be true to each other, to their believes and to their country. These young people demonstrated that one is capable of doing so much more then one is expected to do. They not only established their own identities, they proved themselves worthy of each other's love and friendship and made us fall in love with them on the way.

A trio of characters - Marat, Lika nd Leonidik - endure a really foul (physically and metaphorically) Russian weather of the 40s and 50s and, coming together to hell and back, emerge from this ordeal with flying colors (bluest blue of greenish red, according to an ubiquitous Russian children poem).

A trio of performers - Jedediah Baker, Walter Belenky and luminous Sara Petersen - carry a tremendous emotional load, and they carry it well. They all are unbelievably good, but Sarah Petersen becomes a plexus of this story and this production, an emotional gravity center, a 'white hole' which not just attracts adoration from her male counterparts and the public but emanates it as well.

The play is about them, but the production is about all of us. If you care enough about your soul, do yourself a favor and go see The Promise. And, if you have children, bring them along - they might learn something about love, friendship, pride and honor. Might come useful along the way.

"The Promise" (20 January - 5 February)
Boston Center for the Arts, 527 Tremont Street, BOSTON, MA.
1 (617) 933-8600

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide