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The spirit of William Blake could very well be called the fourth character in this three-hander production of Knud Adams’ sophisticated Children of a Future Age. Doses of thick symbolic poetry are ladled into the story and blend seamlessly with the characters millennial speech patters, with poems emerging briefly like a whale peeking through ocean waves, and then diving back under. Skilled acting and carefully considered staging brought three believable characters to life, and indicated the level of urgency that envelops them in this post-apocalyptic setting.
Hiding from whatever is chasing them, Cole and Tyger find refuge in a small hovel furnished with primitive survival supplies like a bucket of water, a soiled mattress, a bottle of vodka, and a lofted area accessed by an 8 ft ladder. Adams and his team do a brilliant job of creating a textured and detailed setting that utterly transport us out of one of the empty white boxes at Theatrelab on 14th street. Overall the production quality felt full without overreaching and provided a seamless experience that used that maximized the space they had.
Cole, played by Raphael Sacks possesses an ethereal quality as the prophet of William Blake. With a sweet voice and golden boy good looks, he is an easy protagonist to believe in. Similarly Will Dagger does an excellent job carving out a contrasting character in Tyger, the rambunctious and petulant first mate to Cole’s captain. When Mouse, played by Molly McAdoo crashes their safe little hideaway, the two men wrestle over whether her arrival is destined or disastrous. The three young actors deliver memorable performances, and each has a turn singing original songs written around Blake’s rich lyrics. Well cast in their roles, these three performers are also all soulful singers and their musical interludes added levity and effectively conveyed their motives and feelings without ever feeling like we were watching musical theater.
Sharp writing and direction distinguish Adams as one to watch in the indie theater circuit, and hopefully beyond. He taps into the majesty of Blake’s poetry without trivializing it and makes me not only want to go dust off my old Blake anthology, but also wonder if there was something there that I didn’t catch before. His structure and storyline are reminiscent of Jose Rivera’s Marisol or Alan Browne’s Beirut with references to guardian angels, the threat of disease, and a drastic and dangerous futuristic landscape as the motivation that brings these unlikely characters into each other’s lives. It is no small achievement that he both wrote and directed the piece, a combination that seldom produces such an enjoyable result.