by Mitchell Conway · April 23, 2014
Indie Artists on New Plays #81 Mitchell Conway looks at The World Is Round Rose has dreams. She has a blue chair. Rose is baffled by the world being round. It looks flat to her!
The World Is Round is a young girl’s journey with her blue chair to the mountaintop supported by lushly complex harmonies and grounded in a sweet emotional core. This lovely play was originally written by Gertrude Stein and is adapted here by the company Ripe Time.
We experience Rose’s thoughts and feelings as a child at play; it’s a world where repetition and rhyme supersede development and logic. As a result, the show won’t let you get ahead of it. We sit with Rose’s impressions and her outpouring of curiosity. She asks, “If I wasn’t Rose who would I be?” and other unanswerable philosophical queries, like “Is this real or is this not?”
While all four actors are in a way playing Rose as joint storytellers, Kristen Sieh is our delightful focal protagonist. She is out with her cousin Willie, played by Hannah Heller with an enjoyable brashness and childlike slur. And his twin Billy is there too? Or is it a lion? Whatever reality Blake DeLong’s character is in, he certainly scares Rose. But is there a lion or is there not? What is wild? Can Rose be wild?
Rose realizes that the ‘o’ in her name is round. Heather Christian’s gorgeous music soars with the lyrics “a rose is a rose is a rose…” as live animation (Hannah Wasikleski’s projected video and Jiyoun Chang’s lighting are well integrated here as throughout) writes Rose’s name in innumerable circles around a tree trunk.
“My chair is blue; my chair is blue” soon becomes “I thought I knew my chair was blue.” Mimi Lien has designed an exquisite set: big circles in a slice that have a magical transformation near the end.
Sieh also gracefully executes a good deal of aerial choreography created by Nicki Miller. It feels both freeing and dangerous.
Conceived, written and directed by Rachel Dickstein, this play is smart without being “intellectual,” and intimate without the typical plot devices; it’s an impressively original work.