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November 10, 2015
Review: Untameable


Airplane tickets. Time. Destination. Seat number. The experience of immersion in Untameable begins from the moment the audience waits in the lobby for the show. On the back of each ticket is the list of the cast and crew; it's a fun update to traditional program notes that plays nicely into the show's plot.

This site-specific play from Highly Impractical Theatre and The Unsoft War centers around a final diamond heist by the Turin School, a group of thieves who return diamonds to their original country. Nel (Vicki Rodriguez) leads Jym (John Raciopo), SamTam (Denise Yolen), and Mina (Irene Rivera) on one last heist at Buenos Aires’ MAFM Museum, only to find out that their former member, Astrid (J Moliere), and Nel’s former fiancée, Cabel (Annie Sage-Whitehurst), are working with the museum to stop them. MAFM staff Majo (Stacy Salvette) and Belen (Nancy Ellen Reinstein) are determined to let the exhibition continue and stop the Turin School in their tracks. The site-specific nature of the productions splits the narrative into two, forcing the audience to decide between following the museum staff or the thieves. The audience then comes together for the story of the diamond, the relationship between BoyPrince (Nikita Chaundry) and LadyQueen (Ian F. Stewart), entirely told through dance.

So who do you follow? The audience can follow either group or blend the two perspectives together. Each audience member’s experience of the story is different; there are a multitude of combinations in which an audience member can follow the characters. While this provides the stimulus to revisit Untameable in order to flesh out the complete story in one’s mind, key details and motivations may be missed.

Playwright Daria Miyelo Marinelli excellent script is essential to Untameable’s success. Even with audience members putting together fragments of story, Marinelli succeeds in crafting a traditional play structure with a clear beginning, middle, and end. Director Elana McKelahan and dramaturg John Raciopo do a wonderful job arranging the story fragments within the performance space at St. Paul’s, making Untameable exploratory yet cohesive. The entire design team -- Jonathan Cottle (Set), Megan Estes & Megan Lang (Lights), Andrew Murdock (Props), Matsy Stinson (Costume), and Aaron Zick (Sound) -- transform the space into the MAFM Museum, the Turin School’s hideout, and the world of the BoyPrince and LadyQueen. One immediately forgets that the space is a church hall.

With moments of tension within the two factions, and freewill given to the audience, Untameable makes you question the tactics of viewing: if I were to see this again, would I just follow one side for the night or alternate between the two?

And that’s the real diamond. Highly Impractical Theatre and The Unsoft War have crafted a world of magic, mystery, and love; a world that one will want to experience over and over again.

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Written by: Sadah Espii Proctor
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