REVIEW: Begotten

img_0680-xlIf Tatum Hunter’s first play, BEGOTTEN, is this good, I can’t imagine what we’ll see from her in a few years.  For those who don’t know, Tatum is a senior Theatre major at Xavier University and as part of their three shows in rep this season they have produced the show.  And it’s fine, fine work.

Directed by Bridget Leak, we meet Aaron (Sean Burlingame) and Marianne (Kalie Kaimann), a couple who’ve lost everything.  Through creative storytelling we are also invited into the home of Aaron’s parents, Eve (Elizabeth Rancourt) and Adam (Kyle Daniels), who are dealing with their own grief issues.  Rounding out the cast is a mysterious man (Justin Lee) who has chance encounters with several of the cast.

First, let’s talk about the maturity in the script.  Hunter has taken a look at various types of loss, tied them together with an engaging plot, and examines them fairly.  There is real rawness in the dialogue and most of the performances magnify the built in emotion.

Leak has staged the play in a set of church pews, which is a nice nod to the religious themes in the story.  This minimal approach works good for a show done in rep and suits the action well.  The transition from place to place kept the story moving.  The ninety minute production is paced quite well.

The strongest actors in the show are Kaimann and Lee.  The scenes they share together are the most powerful and feel the most authentic.  Kaimann has done some professional acting and her experience and natural talent is obvious.   Lee is simply heartbreaking as he talks about his past.  But when he talked about his immediate future I nearly lost my emotional marbles.  It’s some of the finest acting I’ve seen; he manages to convey complete denial while showing — in such a subtle way — that he does have some awareness that what he’s doing is not going to work out.  I don’t want to spoil anything but you’ll see what I mean.  Lee is an actor to watch.

This is a fabulous play and everyone should go see it.  I’d love to see it again with age appropriate casting (difficult to do in a college production, of course) as I know there are multiple layers in the dialogue and the script and the story that bear repeat viewings.  Hunter should be commended and the Xavier theatre program should be recognized for their commitment to developing new works and new talent.

BEGOTTEN earns my highest recommendation.

BEGOTTEN plays today, Thursday 2/25, and Sunday 2/27. Click here for more information.