|The cast of the play within the play watching the vlog within the play of Smoke & Dust (Joe Iano)|
Macha Theatre Works
(at Theatre Off Jackson)
Through April 14, 2018
Joy McCullough-Carranza succeeds in pulling off a play writing hat-trick! Here, she presents a play about almost-lost-to-history composer Barbara Strozzi (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barbara_Strozzi), whose music we still have available, and who was a contemporary to McCullough-Carranza's other recent muse, Artemisia Gentileschi (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Artemisia_Gentileschi). In fact, after McCullough-Carranza wrote her play, Blood Water Paint, she turned the play into a novel (https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/557182/blood-water-paint-by-joy-mccullough/9780735232112/)!
So how is it a hat trick (that's a term that came out of hockey to name a feat of one person getting three goals)? Smoke & Dust is "about" Barbara Strozzi, but told as a play-within-a-play performed by a modern cast about this intriguing young woman whose lot in life made her choose between a convent or courtesan-ship, since she could not marry rich. Those were about the only choices allowed then. Then, the modern cast is about a actor's little sister who turns to vlogging in order to figure out her own life.
These three strands braid together pretty seamlessly throughout. And the dialogue for all the pieces works so excellently that you can have no difficulties believing it all as it unfolds.
A solid cast including James Lyle, Caitlin Frances, Shelby Windom, Belle Pugh, Peter Cook and Michael Blackwood is headed by new-to-many Bianca Raso. Bianca's background is in opera and she is the perfect choice to perform as the young composer and the cast member with the little sister experiencing family troubles. Raso's voice is sublime. Don't miss her!