The premiere of Cloven Tongues by Victor Lesniewski, directed by Michelle Bossy opened this Wednesday at the Wild Project. A captivating story unraveling the past of a woman found smuggling drugs across the border. Lela (Ema Lakovic), taken in by Jenny (Catherine Curtin), a social worker and cared for by Ronald (Casey Biggs), a priest, cannot hide her scars for long. As Jenny and Ronald try to save Lela and give her a future, Lela cannot help but to be trapped by her past.
Lesniewski’s gripping script shares with the audience an important story, an experience not usually told. He addresses specifically the effects of sex trafficking and war as a civilian. However, on a grander scale this production is about how the past of an individual always influences and colors their future. There is no escape from the past: no faith, no love, no new experiences can erase what has already occurred.
The outsider in this tale is Lela’s love interest, Paul, the local grocery delivery boy. Paul, delightfully played by Alex Mickiewiczis, gives the audience a hope for the future. He is kind and caring but not self-serving, every moment he is onstage is a lovely break from the tension of the play.
A fast and intense flashback montage happens towards the end of the play and is sandwiched with jarring transitions that take too long and pull the audience out of the action. With the set already being very neutral, I was unsure why there was one detailed wall that had to clumsily be exposed to place the scenes in a different time and place (especially when there are projections of the dates and locations at the beginning of every scene).
The set (design by Heather Freedman) did not need to be more: the play was in a private and safe location, so the relationships, characterizations and story could be the highlight. Anthony Mattana’s composed music, for the transitions between scenes, was excellent and helped to emotionally and tonally move the play forward.
A fierce production running from November 8th- November 23rd at The Wild Project on 195 East 3rd Street. Tickets can be purchased online at http://thewildproject.com. $18 GA.
Photos: Zachary Tyler Newton