Washington Blade: THE WEIR and BASRA BOY

BASRA BOY

A star is born. It may sound preposterous, but it’s true.

Josh Sticklin, 25, makes his bid for a future career of real acting renown by his role — really, 13 of them — in a one-man show, the world premiere of “Basra Boy”  …

The lithe and limber Sticklin plays the 18-year-old slacker Speedy in this world premiere of a play by Belfast native Rosemary Jenkinson. It’s a political play as well as highly physical theater propelled by an explosive rush of words, sometimes oddly poetic, almost like Dylan Thomas, sometimes coarsely coruscating, in the angry motormouth dialect of a Belfast teenager.

It’s set in the dead-end world of young men without much education, on the dole with no chance at finding a job, and finding meaning only in hanging out with his mates, flirting with girls, drinking and brawling. He and a friend, Stig, enlist in the British army and give playwright Jenkinson a chance to present her self-described “anti-war” sentiments.

But director Abigail Isaac, a Northern Virginia native and, at 26, already an experienced hand in the theater, calls it “a story about two friends, Speedy and Stig, who don’t have a future — they’re wasters,” and “a decision to enlist tests their friendship.”

Sticklin plays both roles, plus 11 others, in a truly virtuoso performance, morphing from one character to another, sometimes juggling four of them at the same time, and careening about the stage in leaps and twists and turns, hurling himself into this play with fierce intensity and raucous humor.

THE WEIR

Switching gears, and performed in a contemplative mood, melancholy at times, always sweet and sad and frequently supernatural, “The Weir” is a very different play, by accomplished Irish playwright and screenwriter Conor McPherson.

Skillfully directed by Keegan’s founding artistic director, Mark A. Rhea, it co-stars his wife, the astonishingly talented Susan Marie Rhea, as Valerie, the outsider from Dublin who moves to live in a small village in rural northwest Ireland…

In a series of mostly monologue set-pieces, all five get to tell their tales, tinged with bittersweet regret at life’s losses.

-Read the full review



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