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Assimilation

 

Out North Contemporary Art House
&
Jack.ed unlimited productions presents

 

ASSIMILATION

by Jack Dalton


Runs Feb. 28 - March 10

Review by  Robert Pond

 

Assimilation, not so simply, is the gradual adoption by a minority culture of the values and practices of a majority or, dare we say, a stronger culture.  Throughout human history, assimilation has been the arduous residue of domination.  It is not the concept that is so wrong as it is how it was so often forced onto the minority cultures that makes it so horrific.  Social change is not easily legislated or administrated.  Parallel societies were rarely expected to be successful, especially as we now trek into the global society.  Descendants of the American challenge with assimilation of cultures have had to answer for it, somewhat unfairly.  The ‘feel good’ textbooks in our schools didn’t always cover the dark side of history well.  Sadly, all the “I’m sorry”  have never changed an event in human history.  But, for the sake of the probable societal missteps today and tomorrow, it’s understandable that there needs to be reminders, less we repeat ourselves.  The Out North production of Assimilation is such a reminder.

Jack Dalton has created an interesting theatre piece in his powerful work, Assimilation, which attempts a reverse lesson given in the theme of “how would you like it if…?”  It’s not a new approach but nonetheless it remains innovative.  You occasionally see it as a theme in sci-fi films.  Mr. Dalton’s play, Assimilation, is a mirrored look at what George Washington and the like thought was a good idea but which was so cruelly carried out.  Director Ed Bougeois’ production of Jack Dalton’s work pulsates in a series of brief scenes using the audience as students as well as descendants to admonish; it didn’t always work.  The characters were party lecturing the audience and partly acting.   The actors in this powerfully written piece didn’t always relate to each other on stage.  And, the shouting replaced acting a time or two.  It has to be said that some of Mr. Bougeois’ staging was inventive such as the use of fragmented pieces like the fence units and the multiple uses of a few small crates.  The scene changes are interestingly choreographed amid metallic music and military-like blocking that together were stand-alone oleo acts.  It wasn’t very clear as to why.

Individually, the actors did impress. Martha Jane Jack was every bit the Elder; you are immediately drawn to her.  She did look a bit uncomfortable, though, in her bad guy scenes.  Jacob Holley-Kline as Adam and Jesse Miessner as Michael did really well as new comers to the theatre.  They performed their roles well as the white victims of the culture-to-culture assimilation. Jeff Aldrich captured the role of Paul with a great deal of anger between his smoldering and his outbursts.  As Paul, you could see the frightening promise of payback. Young Aldrich is an actor with an impressive range.  Mary Lou Rock performed the Teacher.  Her performance was sweet and telling; on stage, she represented a princess of humanity in a hostile environment. Ms Rock is an actress with a good deal of promise.

A play that reverses the roles in history can be challenging. Jack Dalton’s Assimilation does just that and when you see the play, it is not a production you’ll easily forget.

Assimilation will perform at the Out North Contemporary Art House until March 10th.

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