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The Stonewater Rapture at Imurj Is Delightfully Humorous and Frighteningly Serious

The Stonewater Rapture stars Matthew Hager and Lexie Braverman (photo by Sarah Guizard)

The Stonewater Rapture stars Matthew Hager and Lexie Braverman (photo by Sarah Guizard)

The Stonewater Rapture by Doug Wright has been making the rounds since it won first in the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 1984. This one-hour, two-character show, dealing with the conflict between hormonic drives and religious convictions in a small Texas town is currently being performed by Aggregate Theatre Company in the basement of Imurj in downtown Raleigh, NC.

This new theater’s founder, Matthew Hager, states that the company “was created in order to pursue, entice, cultivate, and grow a younger, broader, more diverse theatre audience in the Oak City […] to bring in those who have limited engagement with theatre by offering a palpable, immediate, and provoking experience ….”

This is the inaugural show for the Aggregate Theatre Company, and a funny thing happened along the way. We went to see it on Friday night, a double opening for the show and the theater company and the night of the torrential rain in Raleigh. Midway through the performance, the audience became aware of a huge puddle of water forming beneath our feet; and as many of us were lifting our feet out of the way, it was impossible for the actors to ignore this distraction.

The playwright would have been proud at the aplomb and professionalism of these two young actors, as they improvised through the disruption. They made jokes about Noah’s Ark and other things, and then reverted to the script as it became apparent that the water had reached a peak at about three inches. After several attempts to remove the water completely, the company wisely decided to extend comps to us for the forthcoming shows.

So, we came back Saturday night and watched the entire show undisturbed. We’re very glad we did. Director Jaybird O’Berski keeps a driving pace as two virginal teens wrestle — at a torrid measure — with their intense cravings and their profound religious beliefs. Then, as a sports car can turn on a dime, the action turns from the delightfully humorous to frighteningly serious, revealing the incredible damage their oppressed demands have led them to.

Lexie Braverman and Matthew Hager display disciplined and extensive acting abilities, and create a palpable chemistry so intimate that we tend to feel like window peepers examining something that’s not our business. They are sweet, and demanding of each other. They are brutally honest and lovingly thoughtful at once. And when the turn occurs, they will break your hearts.

The set, which is not credited, is, indeed, creditable, clearly forming a living room and porch of a comfortable house. The lighting by Mia Carson is spot on, reflecting the mood as the action moves.

A powerful background painting of a partial face, entitled “Jesusize” was painted by Sophia Lemieux, and is also for sale to the highest bidder.

Please note that this show has a very short run, ending this Friday, June 23rd. It’s well worth attending, and we wish this brave new company success!

The Stonewater Rapture stars Matthew Hager and Lexie Braverman (photo by Sarah Guizard)

The Stonewater Rapture stars Matthew Hager and Lexie Braverman (photo by Sarah Guizard)

SECOND OPINION: June 14th Durham, NC Indy Week mini-preview by Byron Woods: https://www.indyweek.com/indyweek/the-stonewater-rapture/Event?oid=6372888; and June 14th Hillsborough, NC WUNC/91.5 FM interview with actors Lexie Braverman and Matthew Hager for “Lights Up!”: https://whupfm.org/episode/lights-up-61417-permanent-archive/. (Note: To read Triangle Arts and Entertainment’s online version of the June 19th Triangle Review review by Dustin K. Britt, click http://triangleartsandentertainment.org/2017/06/the-stonewater-rapture-is-a-very-robust-first-production-for-aggregate-theatre-company/.)

The Aggregate Theatre Company presents THE STONEWATER RAPTURE at 8 p.m. June 23 at Imurj (beneath Whiskey Kitchen), 300 S. McDowell St., Raleigh, North Carolina 27603.

TICKETS: $10 on June 19th and $15 on June 23rd.

BOX OFFICE: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/the-stonewater-rapture-a-play-by-doug-wright-tickets-34754547788.

INFORMATION: 919-279-5734 or aggregatetheatre@gmail.com.

SHOW: https://www.aggregatetheatre.com/current-production and https://www.facebook.com/events/127898791106551/.

PRESENTER: https://www.aggregatetheatre.com/, https://www.facebook.com/aggregatetheatre/, and https://twitter.com/aggtheatre.

VENUE: https://www.imurj.com/, https://www.facebook.com/imurjraleigh/, and https://twitter.com/imurjraleigh.

DIRECTIONS: https://www.google.com/maps.

PARKING: https://www.imurj.com/parking/.

PARENTAL ADVISORY: Aggregate Theatre Company cautions, “[This play is] Not appropriate for children. [It] Contains strong sexual content.

NOTE: There will be a mini-concert, starting at 7:30 p.m., before each performance.

OTHER LINKS:

The Stonewater Rapture (1983 Yale University and 1984 Edinburgh Fringe Festival play): http://www.dramatists.com/cgi-bin/db/single.asp?key=148 (Dramatists Play Service, Inc.).

The Script: http://books.google.com/ (Google Books).

Doug Wright (Dallas, TX-born playwright and screenwriter): https://www.ibdb.com/broadway-cast-staff/doug-wright-113564 (Internet Broadway Database), http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0942354/ (Internet Movie Database), and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doug_Wright (Wikipedia).

Jaybird O’Berski (director, artistic director of Little Green Pig Theatrical Concern, and assistant professor in the Duke University Department of Theater Studies): http://www.littlegreenpig.com/jaybird-o-berski.html (LGPTC bio) and https://theaterstudies.duke.edu/people/jaybird-oberski (Duke Theater Studies bio).

EDITOR’S NOTE:

Martha Keravuori is a life-long theater artist — an actress, director, and stage manager — in North Carolina, around the country, and overseas. She has a theater degree from UNC-Greensboro, and has been active in the arts in Raleigh for the past 40 years. Martha is the retired executive director of the North Carolina Theatre Conference. Chuck Galle returned to Raleigh last year after a 17-year absence. He was active in community theater for many years, and directed the troupe of maximum-security inmates at Raleigh’s Central Prison known as the Central Prison Players. In New England, he performed on stage, on TV, and in films. He is the author of Stories I Never Told My Daughter — An Odyssey, which can be ordered on Amazon.com. Chuck Galle and Martha Keravuori previously reviewed theater for Boom! Magazine of Cary. Click here to read more of their reviews for Triangle Review and Triangle Arts and Entertainment.

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