The Plume - Mike Rice
Reviewed By Luke Dodge
Is there a name for the apocalyptic event that occurs before the post-apocalypse? The answer is “The Plume.” When a chemical plant explodes during a deposition and facts start to come to light, circumstances quickly escalate beyond dangerous. The plant is owned by a corrupt blue collar CEO from the South; his twisted ideals and justifications underlie the calamity and also provide a wider commentary on current events.
At times the acting drifted into the overly dramatic, particularly during the self-righteous monologues, but considering the characters' lives were at stake, the reactions still felt appropriate. Pete Bakely as J.D. Renshaw acts as the play's center and captures a man who can be simultaneously hated and pitied. Nicole Hall as Lindsay effectively creates a memorable character, bringing raw emotion and pathos to her role.
Excellent lighting and sound create the illusion of disaster happening directly outside the theater-- the explosion visibly startled the audience. The haphazard staging of the set and the cluttered surroundings create a believable conference room. Characters frequently talking at the same time is a smart directorial choice that adds to the chaos. Clever blocking of the television with voice-over announcements adds realism without over-complicated technical tricks; imagination creates the best visual effects.
A roller coaster experience and difficult to watch at times, this well-written drama turns an eye on the evil potential in human nature. Through continually building dread that culminates in pandemonium, this production hits the same dark notes as a Coen Brothers film. It’s not much of a spoiler to say this is not a happy show but it is an intense and satisfying dramatic experience.