Theatre Review: Aipotu is a solid second installment in Part 2 of the Lydie Breeze Trilogy
Aipotu is the second installment in Ego Po’s production of John Guare’s Lydie Breeze Trilogy. It is a starkly different production from Cold Harbor. Where Part One takes place across multiple landscapes, environs, battles and harrowing dramas. Part Two is much more sedated and contemplative. Guare’s cyclical writing asks us to tackle idealism vs reality. When does the greater good become poisonous to the individual?
The beginning of the play finds us seven years removed from the battles of Cold Harbor on the beach in Nantucket. Where our Lydie, Joshua, Amos and Grady have decided to begin a utopian society geared toward exploring the higher ideals of mankind.
But from the start it is clear the experiment has not gone well. Lydie and Joshua have married and have had a child. Their relationship now filled with resentment and jealousy. Amos is full of anger at having had no say in the running of the household. While being manipulated to do everything from farming and fishing to house cleaning and child care. Grady is often absent while working for the railroad.
Money is tight, tensions are high and tempers are flaring.
Marketa Fantova’s set creates the perfect landscape. Utilizing the same supply boxes, planks and sand that she used to create the battlefields of Cold Harbor. Fantova uses the width of the theatre to create a deceptively isolated playing space. Thus, putting the characters on an island of their own while fighting for their own emotional survival. Jay Ansill and Cynthia Hopkins, once again, strike a perfect chord with a beautiful musical score. Played and sung live by a wonderful rudimentary orchestra. Marie Anne Chiment’s costumes are spot on period pieces.
Melanie Julian’s Lydie is again strong. We do get to see some real chops from Julian in the second act as transforms from vibrant young mother to weathered old spinster. David Girard’s Dan Grady once again adds a great energy (and most of the booze) to the show. Charlie Delmarcelle plays Joshua Hickman’s jealous, petty, narcissism with natural ease.
It is Ed Swidey’s Amos that really shines. Following his arc from Cold Harbor as an affable oaf to the end of Aipotu as a refined lawyer and soon to be statesman, Swidey gives a fantastic performance well worth the price of admission.
The writing in Aipotu can be a bit static. Director Lane Savadove pulls out a lot from his bag of theatrical tricks to keep it flowing and lively. As it could turn into a talk fest. Not the least of which was taking the faux proscenium set of the first act and turning it to theatre in the round in the second. Overkill? Maybe. Interesting? For sure. Overall, Aipotu is a solid second installment, well produced and performed. Looking forward to part III.
Aipotu is followed by Part III: Home, which runs April 11-22. Tickets to the full series start at $60. Three-Day Marathons run Wed. April 25, Thurs. April 26, Fri. April 27 at 7pm and Wed. May 2, Thurs. May 3, Fri. May 4 at 7pm. Tickets to the Three-Day Marathons cost $100. Audiences can also see the trilogy in One-Day Marathons. Tickets cost $150. One-Day Marathon dates are: Saturday, April 28, Sunday, April 29; Saturday, May 5, and Sunday, May 6. The performances for the One-Day Marathon run 1 pm-10 pm with two meal breaks.
(Check out Rob Nedoff’s review of Part One: https://phillyreview.com/theatre-review-layered-piece-artistry/)