There are times when someone or something switches your mind bulb and reminds you of what is really important, and thus making you land your feet back to earth. In this age of fast technology and mindless entertainment the theater group Aztec economy provokes the imagination and stirs emotions within the audience by exercising real acting talent, doing what good theater should- wake the senses and lighting up mind bulbs.
"Butcher Holler Here We Come," is the name of the play by Brooklyn playwright Casey Wimpee, which will be playing at 307 West Baltimore's Emp Collective venue this weekend starting January 10 until Sunday 12th. The show includes a cast of dedicated actors that savor their character's circumstances with true gut and leave the audience feeling like they have really experienced an hour beneath earth. Set in the coal mines of Virginia, the performance uses minimal theatrical tools to recreate mine scenes that has one riveting on the edge of their wooden chair. A thoughtful and carefully crafted play that ebbs and flows with sustained momentum, which the actors (Adam Belvo, Isaac Byrne, Michael Mason, Adam Laten Willson, and Cole Wimpee) master with their accents, voice projection, physicality, and emotion. The director's choice of movement synchronized with the lighting projected by the head lamps the characters wear, along with the text, is pure mastery. Leah Bonvissuto creates images out of thin air with these corpulent, and intelligent actors that remind the audience about the real beauty and truth of the acting craft.
One of the poignant scenes that lifts the heavy mood of the riddle in which the miners find themselves is when K-Bus ( Played by Belvo), is in a state of Paranoia after inhaling Methamphetamine and decides to break Jet's knees if he does not know how to provide songs that rhyme with each number he calls out. In an attempt to find rhyming song titles and remember the authors to boot, the imagery that is created in this scene is captivating and luckily from where this writer was sitting, the image portrayed by Belvo and Bonvissuto suspends the audience's disbelief with effectiveness.
There are few flaws in this production, which if the cast considered more, could improve the performance. While Cole Wimpee's projection and vocalization of the text is on target, the rest of the cast tended to be too realistic in their delivery of their character's lines, and it was often hard to understand the words. While colloquialism, and regional dialects and accents are important in the creation of a character and the reality of the performance, an actor must not ever forget its audience and these actors tended to get too lost in the character's accents and tuning into their voices was hard, thus loosing its meaning. Hiccup ( Played by Byrne) has presence and the eerie stare adds to the credibility of the character. However as the play unfolds and the actor delivers his lines, the continuous hiccups become annoying and pointless and stagnate the juiciness and freshness of the initial appearance.
Overall, the actors are purposeful, playful, credible, captivating, and above all entertaining. It is a great inspiration and relief to learn that theater is still alive in this country and that new playwrights are emerging with exciting work that is food for the senses and the spirit.