By Marcina Zaccaria
The Annotated History of the American Muskrat begins with an historical lesson. Sharing the story of the American muskrat, Boston based Circuit Theatre explores their pioneering spirit.
In a transformative theater space, a ward full of hospital beds becomes an office space. Time shifts and travels. Dressed in raccoon hats, and taking the shape of a boat, actors trod forward like Neo-Futurists. Ensemble cast members Sam Bell-Gurwitz, Jared Bellot, Madeline Boles, Christopher Fitzsimmons, Simon Henriques, Molly Jones, Anna Nemetz, and Justin Phillips burst beyond the boundaries of the everyday to define their moment in history.
With outlandish costumes and practiced ensemble movement, vignettes are clever departures. Cheesy grins and broad-style lip synching define musical moments, crafted like music videos. Flashes of pulsating light settle into a red and blue vacuum. Honest monologues pinpoint moments in time. In fact, the entire production seems like a rambling Eastern seaboard road trip – gone right and wrong. While the pictorial nature of the play doesn’t fail to impress, a more cohesive aesthetic could provide a firmer, grounding force.
Playwright John Kuntz clears space in his drama for great folk music from America’s 1970s and stories about Betty Ford and the Ford Administration. Even the Captain and Tennille are not off limits. While friendship persists, love prevails.
With The Annotated History of the American Muskrat, Circuit Theatre maintains their cred. The spirit of the future is theirs to develop.
The Annotated History of the American Muskrat is playing until July 16 at New Ohio Theatre at 154 Christopher Street. For additional details, tickets are available at https://web.ovationtix.com/trs/pr/958131 or by calling 212-352-3101. Tickets are $18 general admission and $15 for students and seniors. For the full Ice Factory 2016 lineup, visit http://newohiotheatre.org/icefactory2016.htm.