“HEADS” …a review by Michael Martinez
The recent production of “Heads” by acclaimed playwright E.M. Lewis recently closed at Theater For The New City after a two week run. The drama which depicts the plight of four hostages held in an Iranian prison was first produced in 2007 and made it’s New York City debut with this production. The plot of the script could have been ripped from today’s international headlines of terrorism, videotaped beheadings and hostage negotiations. “Heads” definately deserves our attention based on the mirror is holds up to the world we live in, but this provocative and suspenseful play also offers audiences the opportunity to experience this issue through the eyes of an exceptional playwright.
The plays opens with two sets of hostages on seperate sides of the stage, their seperate cells, realizing where they are and who they are sharing a cell with. One pair of captives is a network journalist and a freelance photographer who is determined to attempt an escape using wire springs from the torn and frayed matress in their cell. The other prisoners are a female British embassy worker and an American engineer who has been in captivity longer and has aquired the habits of meditation and excerise to help keep his sanity. At the end of the first act it is revealed that two of the prisoners are caught in a hostage negotiation and are threatened with death. In the second act the characters deal with the possibility of a cellmate suffering a brutal death and how the other prisoner needs the other.
The cast of this production delivered their roles with emotional clarity and skill. Robert Jordan delivered a fine and moving performance as Harold, the American engineer. Carol Jacobanis did an excellent job as the British embassy worker whose life has been torn apart and who now has to live with the threat of torture or violence at any moment. Seamus Maynard’s portrayal of Michael, a network TV journalist, is also exceptional. Gabriel Gutierrez delivered the most powerful performance from this finely tuned ensemble as the freelance photographer. Director Lewis H. Gould also did a wonderful job bringing forth nuanced performances from his cast and avoiding melodramatic interpretations.
Playwright E.M. Lewis has written a play that avoids portraying the political and the sensational aspects of a hostage crisis. “Heads” reveals the human and intimate emotional details of what may occur behind the closed doors of a terrorist prison. “Heads” is a play that deserves to be seen by larger audiences.