Struck with Complete Amazement
Vassar and New York Stage and Film’s Powerhouse Theater present Rob Handel’s A Maze
Austin Lysy and Rebecca Naomi Jones in A Maze by Rob Handel (Photo: Buck Lewis)
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Life has an interesting way of doing things. People each with their own personal stories are seemingly detached from one another when in fact, they are all connected through something larger than themselves. A Maze is one such realization that life isn’t just one story or one time in history, it’s the bigger picture, the human struggle that makes the art of living. The play is a fantastical story of a graphic novelist played by Patrick Carroll, who struggles to complete his 15,000 page comic book, a musician played by Austin Lysy , who searches for the inspiration for his next hit, and a young girl played by Betsy Hogg, who strives to recreate her identity after years in captivity. Finishing off the cast is Mark Alhadeff as Tom/Alexander/Voice/Günter, Heidi Armbruster as Kim/Tish, Rebecca Naomi Jones as Oksana, Mariann Mayberry as Angela/Queen/Hermione, and Daniel Oreskes as King/Gareth.
Artists, as seen from the perspective of someone who doesn’t really identify with them could easily mistake them for being outside the lines of cultural norms. In fact, the rules of society do matter and Rob Handel, the playwright and winner of the 2010 Whitfield Cook Award for A Maze, when asked about what drew on his inspiration to create a play about artists and about the creators of things he describes it as “the kind of ethical idea that people attach to artists…I find the idea intriguing and strange…so many compelling stories and plays that I love come back to obsession one way or the other and I feel like all these different themes are being interpreted by one thing.”
A Maze jumps around in time and space with the different characters. Watching the play becomes an experience of wandering around this maze of stories and piecing it together and seeing how it becomes one collective story. Rebecca Naomi Jones, who plays the character Oksana, describes it as “wildy theatrical which is so exciting.” Creativity, addiction, love, and power are themes that reoccur throughout and Mariann Mayberry, who takes on three different roles says “so few plays surprise me any more, it’s surprising what addictions can be, even things like the love of a child, it doesn’t have to be drugs or alcohol, it can be an addiction to human contact.” A Maze is not completely stuck in realism and the story itself is quite fascinating, it’s not everyday such a play can come to life.
A Maze is being shown at the Powerhouse Theatre at Vassar College along with New York Stage and Film. The space is interesting and inspiring in itself, being set away from the city creates an environment where actors, playwrights, and directors come together to create new and exciting pieces. It is such a place where the audience becomes another character in the play and carries such an important role in developing the experience. It gives A Maze the space it needs to try and answer the questions that artists and creators deal with too often. As Mariann Mayberry put it, “how does one create without destroying, live without making destruction all around you?”
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