by Leta Tremblay · August 16, 2014
The energy in the theater was palpable on Tuesday evening when I went to see The Flood written and directed by Daniel McCabe. The intimate setting of the blackbox theater cloaked the show in a warm embrace, protecting it from the storm that was about to rage onstage.
The Flood brings together four friends, two couples, who hail from four corners of the world. Each of them brings their own culture, voice, history, and beliefs to a Manhattan apartment during Hurricane Sandy. The setting alone brings up memories for any New Yorker watching. We are still living in the aftermath of this storm that proved how unprepared our city was for such a disaster that caused so many to lose their homes and their lives.
But it isn’t just the deadly winds and waters outside that these characters have to contend with tonight. They must also face each other.
Writer/director McCabe wears an actor’s hat in this production as well in the role of Charlie, the one native New Yorker whose family is nearby and in immediate danger. Without giving away the plot, I will say that McCabe fully lives in this character’s skin, inhabiting a troubled man plagued with guilt and regret. For him, the storm began long before the wind began to blow and the stakes couldn’t be greater. McCabe shares Charlie’s pain with us slowly at first, like dark clouds gathering on the horizon, and then all at once, lashing out against his friends and lover like a bolt of lightning.
Emma Ishta, as Mary, also stands out in the ensemble cast with her simple and honest portrayal of a woman who feels utterly alone in her inability to help her partner through his crisis. She is shut out and adrift in her attempt to offer safe harbor.
John Duddy, playing Irishman Aidan, offers much needed comic relief to the evening and Julia Morrison effectively plays host as Eve, the psychology student and overly prepared Hurricane Katrina survivor.
The design team adapts well to the restrictions of FringeNYC with a realistic and believable set from Gregory MacAvoy and a partnership between Christopher Studley (Lighting) and Phil Moffa (Sound) that creates the atmosphere of the furious tempest outside while emergency response vehicles race past the windows.
Toward the end of the production, Ishta sings a beautiful song about a boy who was rescued during the Queensland Floods of 2011 in Australia only to watch his mother and brother be swept away by the rising waters. This story brings the play full circle by offering an acknowledgement of universal human suffering in the wake of natural disasters around the world in these volatile times. McCabe notes in the program that this story, which he learned about in the aftermath of Sandy, affected him deeply and inspired him as he wrote The Flood, his first play.
The audience rose to their feet as the performers took their bows and I walked into the misty night with small raindrops dotting my shoulders. Nature, at least for a moment, remains at bay.