by Espii · June 19, 2014
Indie Artists on New Plays #118 Espii looks at Mahogany Brown and the Case of The Disappearing Kid at the Brick Theater's Comic Book Festival Who is Mahogany Brown? Mahogany Brown and the Case of the Disappearing Kid is a play inspired by comics and the film noir genre, leading us through this mystery to solve. Written by Gina Femia, the play was inspired by the disappearance of Avonte Oquendo. The set up is simple: cardboard with cartoonlike stage props drawn on them: a desk, street lamp, and a brick wall. A smoke machine also sits upstage.
Actor Jacob Saxton plays Jimmy Jones. On a trip to the park, Jimmy Jones’ son is taken from him by the Nameless, and he asks Mahogany Brown to take on the case. Enter Melissa Roth as Mahogany Brown, an independent, witty private-eye quick with her words that deals in “unusual”cases. Together they team up to find his son. But it appears that there is more that’s missing than is initially revealed, and Mahogany Brown has to face who she really is.
The sound design was phenomenal. The exposition scenes had jazz music as its undertone, reminiscent of a film noir movie. A flow of time was also apparent. The jazz music slowed down time during Mahogany Browne’s thoughts. The repetition of music felt like a cycle going back in time. There was even a moment when it felt as if time stopped.
Although there were minimal stage props, the sound design was clever in creating layers of space on stage. From creating larger spaces like parks to creating new props such as doors, sound designer Erin Breznitsky gave every reason for the audience to suspend their disbelief on the cartoonlike world that we were in.
Director Megan Eileen Kosmoski incorporated strong physical choices for the Nameless. The Nameless played out description scenes through puppetry. Our “disappearing kid” is a cardboard puppet with actor Lyndsay Dru Corbett behind it, while another actor, Zach Friedman, played the role of Flashback Jimmy. The actors were dressed in black and wore masks, and were able to mesh with opposing scenarios. The players also did a strong job. Melissa Roth, Sarah Goosmann and Jacob Saxton put us right in the heart of film noir with their speech manner, cynicism, and mood of their characters.
While Mahogany Brown and the Case of the Disappearing Kid had many strong individual elements, there were times that I found myself lost as to what was going on, and I had to backtrack throughout the performance to discover that. In an attempt to put the pieces together, I may have missed out on the full essence of the show.
Overall the play was effective in accomplishing its comic book style.