Saturday, November 24, 2018

Days of Rage

Days of Rage
Second Stage Theater
Tony Kiser Theater
November 24, 2018

Photo courtesy of Second Stage Theater
What happened to the ideals of the youth of America?  Where is the revolutionary spirit that wasn’t afraid to stand up and protest against an unjust war?  Playwright Steven Levenson takes us back to that time with Days of Rage, now completing a successful run at Second Stage Theater.  It is 1969 in Ithaca, New York, and a handful of college dropouts form a collective to join the revolution for change in America.  Director Trip Cullman finds the perfect pace to tell this powerful and vital story, fueled by the angst of the time period.

While Jenny (played by Lauren Patten) is handing out leaflets and trying to motivate college students to join a protest in Chicago, she meets Hal (played by J. Alphonse Nicholson).  She tries to recruit him, until he reveals that his manager sent him out to ask her to move away from the front of their store before he calls the police.  She returns to the collective house she shares with Spence (played by Mike Faist) and Quinn (played by Odessa Young) to discuss the bleak outcome of their recruitment efforts and their financial difficulties.  The next day Hal tracks Jenny down to continue their political discussion and explore their personal connection.  Spence meets Peggy (played by Tavi Gevinson) who is eager to join the collective.  Spence is hesitant to bring her back to the house, but she has something they are in desperate need of, $2,000 cash.  After two of their friends who left the collective house are killed in a bombing attempt, the group is followed by men they believe to be FBI.  Their trust in one another and dedication toward their political beliefs are put into question.

Lauren Patten & Mike Faist
Photo courtesy of Second Stage Theater
All five of the actors are phenomenal.  Their chemistry is electric and their timing is impeccable.  Lauren Patten portrays Jenny's intensity with clear determination.  She is driven by the optimism of her ideals, yet torn by the changing focus and violent direction of the collective.  Mike Faist delivers some of the comic relief with brilliant timing and quick wit.  Odessa Young’s Quinn is dark and brooding, while Tavi Gevinson upsets the norm with rebellious blabber and a hidden secret.  J. Alphonse Nicholson is grounding and rational as Hal, offering the other characters a different perspective on the truth.
Odessa Young & Tavi Gevinson
Photo courtesy of Second Stage Theater
In the final scene Spence and Quinn offer a glimpse into the future as they prepare for the Chicago protest.  They see the world moving forward without much improvement and their rebellious efforts turning into fabled stories they pass onto the next generation.  Question: What purpose do their “days of rage” serve?  Answer: To raise a voice that incites action and keeps the world continually moving forward is a constant necessity, regardless of the outcome.

Days of Rage is a powerful play about the values of raising our voices and how the past propels into the future.  This extraordinary Second Stage Theater production closes on November 25.    

Domenick Danza

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