The Grit and Power of Richmond Triangle Players' "Vincent River"
Starting off with the wonderful Jill-Bari Steinberg skittering around a rundown cold water flat and it only takes a second to realize that the Richmond Triangle Players have eschewed their frequent glitz and glamour opening production for a down and gritty powerful one that will leave an impression long after the final curtain. Vincent River, by playwright Philip Ridley and running through October 10 is a two-hander with Steinberg as the mother of a murdered young man and Keaton Hilllman as a mysterious young man who found the body and wants to know more about her son.
What follows is a cat and mouse interrogation between the two with each switching roles throughout. Each actor has their strong moments in the spotlight and some of the power for me as an audience member was watching the person who was being quiet during those scenes. Watching the actor who was giving the silence but who was still very much in the scene – it was beautiful to watch a master class in being in the moment completely and honestly.
Director Vinnie Gonzalez has paid attention to even the smallest details. Doubling as the scenic designer he has created a flat that is crumbling with several chunks of plaster missing. This has become a leitmotif in his work as he uses it to expose his characters chipping away from the surface down to their essence. It’s a form of theatrical pentimento that is very effective.
Adding to that is a collection of boxes scattered around the flat. While Steinberg’s character is in the process of moving, it also compartmentalizes her, packing away her life into small chunks, keeping things hidden from everyone around her. These are all nice touches.
As the play takes place in East London, it is played with the according dialect. Be prepared. Both actors do a good job maintaining the working-class accent and dialect coach Erica Hughes has done fine work establishing the patois.
If you do go to see this production, be prepared to show your vaccination card. Due to the very intimate space of Richmond Triangle Players, they are taking COVID precautions seriously. Also be prepared to wear a mask unless you are in the process of eating or drinking.
Vincent River is ultimately a searing evening of theatre in the hands of master theatre artists. For anyone who loves an evening of well-done drama this is a definite must see.