Theatre Review: warplay at Azuka Theatre

Azuka Theatre has become a well-respected mainstay in the Philadelphia Theater scene.  They have carved a serious niche in the area of edgy, relevant productions.  They are also known for both world and local premiers.  warplay is a welcome addition to the Azuka legacy.

warplay by JC Lee is a modern retelling of the love story between Greek hero Achilles and his dearest friend and lover Patroclus.  Achilles worshiped Patroclus, but he was overprotective, a fact that Patroclus resented.  To prove himself to Achilles, Patroclus dons his friend’s armor and pretends to be the famed warrior during the battle for Troy.  Patroclus is slain, and this infuriates Achilles, and, in the Iliad, he makes the Trojans pay by killing Hector the son of King Priam.

Jeff Gorcyca (A) and James Kern (P) in Azuka Theatre’s production of warplay .

That is all the history you need to know in order to appreciate the beauty of this well-crafted examination of love, friendship and war.  Kevin Glaccum, Azuka’s Artistic Director, plies his craft as director.  The actors Jeff Gorcyca (A) and James Kern (P) take on the challenging roles.  Their names are never mentioned because it is about the intimacy of friendship where feelings are the most important things.  Through their journey we learn the history of their meeting, their love, their arguments, and their insecurities.  Both actors are wonderful at maintaining the distinctive nature of each, especially during a fight scene choreographed by Michael Cosenza.

Glaccum’s nicely paced direction takes full advantage of Thom Weaver’s distinctive set and effective lighting.  It takes place in a backyard playground such a wonderful setting for the growing love of two friends.  It provides an area of safety.  It is outside of this space where the danger lurks.  Natalia de la Torre’s costumes complement the tone of the production and Damien Figueras’s sound design helps to keep the threat of the outside the mind of the audience.

warplay is 70 minutes long with no intermission at the Louis Bluver Theatre at the Drake.  It runs until November 18th. For information call 215.563.1100 or go online at AzukaTheatre.org.

All images by Johanna Austin/AustinArt.org

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