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By Robert Delaney
A group of radical activists show themselves to be hypocritical sponges when they conspire to cover up a murder committed by the television actress who has become their meal ticket in Nicky Silver's "The Altruists," the new production by the Magenta Giraffe Theatre Company at the Furniture Factory in Midtown Detroit.
This brilliant production marks a stunning comeback for the Magenta Giraffe troupe, which almost succumbed to financial difficulties last year. Its production of Ibsen's "Rosmersholm" was a classic case of a critical success that unfortunately didn't attract much of an audience.
I hope that doesn't happen again, because this production is a genuine triumph for this local theater company and deserves to play to packed houses and even be held over. Be forewarned, however, that it contains plenty of strong language, controversial themes, and simulated sex.
The multi-talented Molly McMahon directs a terrific local cast in this production of Silver's dark comedy.
Alysia Kolascz is a treat as Sydney, the soap opera actress who panics after killing her bed-mate of the night before.
Jonathan Davidson and Jill Dion hilariously compete for more-radical-than-thou honors as Ethan and Cybil, who live to protest and live off of Sydney.
Cal M. Schwartz is just perfect as Ronald, Sydney's very gay social-worker brother, whose loneliness causes him to hope for a lasting relationship with Lance, the male prostitute he picked up in a bar.
And Richard Payton's portrayal of Lance is funny, but with a keen sense of his character's ironic status as the most honest and good-hearted person of the lot.
Scenic designer Adam Crinson has designed a very functional set for the production; Neil Koivu's lighting is very effective in directing our attention; and Lauren Montgomery's costumes fit each character's persona well.
For the theater-goer who doesn't mind a bit of edginess, this is a don't-miss production.
SHOW DETAILS: "The Altruists" continues through May 26, with performances at 8 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays, and one 3 p.m. Sunday matinee on May 20, at the Furniture Factory, 4126 Third St., between Willis and Alexandrine in Midtown Detroit. For ticket information, call 313-408-7269 or go to www.magentagiraffe.org.
Reprinted with permission of the New Monitor, May 10, 2012
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