Before rehearsals started, Rhea was worried that the show landed outside of her wheelhouse (she usually doesn’t do scripts with such a bitingly satirical edge). That fear didn’t appear to influence the product; her direction funnels Keegan’s talent right where it needs to go. The unconstrained fury of LeTourneau’s Eliza proves deeply cathartic against the comically disturbing piggishness of Stu (Peter Finnegan) and Weber (Stephen Russell Murray), but Rhea knows when to dial it back.
The difficult comedic timing ensures that the rage doesn’t burn too deep: it isn’t easy to get laughs out of somebody pouring their coffee too loud, but Rhea has the right touch to make it happen. She recognizes that the script strikes a careful balance between comedy and boldfaced social commentary, and she knows exactly when to emphasize one over the other and when to combine them.
What We’re Up Against is the kind of zoomed-in, focused work that Keegan has always thrived on. It’s a show that proves that a theater does not have to lose its heart as it expands. The renovations have given them access to more space and resources without losing it’s audience-focused intimacy.