Venice, playing at The Public Theatre, wonders in a dystopian world, a world where man vs. manhood and revenge vs. sacrifice. This is a world where love and selfish greed prevail.
Beautifully staged thrust, many in the audience compared the staging to “Hit List” from “Smash.” Techno-text and LED Images kept us mesmerized and fully engaged. Each scene represented a chapter in the story and the lives of those in Venice’s world. The tech displays keep us alerted to the story’s progression.
Leslie Odom, Jr. as Markos Monroe, the half-brother of Venice (Haaz Sleiman) delivers a chilling performance. You love and admire Markos’ self-confidence and are disturbed by his driven manipulation. Odom’s “Last Man” shows off his amazing vocals that range from a soulful Luther Vandross to the iconic Usher. There is probably not a finer actor, character creator, and engaging performer than Odom.
Victoria Platt as Markos’ wife is stunning. Her beauty and vocals are mesmerizing. You feel her internal pain and struggles. The audience embraces her every move and revels in her pivotal decision.
Act One ends with “Liberation, Pull Up The People,” which is destined to be an anthem for those who challenge the status quo, follow their core beliefs, and are determined to change the future for the better.
As the show climaxed, there was a lady in the front row that was very animated with her reactions to the story and the tragedy evolving. She validated that the raw emotions from this stellar ensemble confirmed it was their “moment to shine.”
Two names to remember – Matt Sax and Chase Brock. Matt establishes the pace for the show as the Clown/MC and keeps the audience engaged and the story on edge. As you read the credits, you realize this clever, vibrant performer also created the music and lyrics. It is his vision you are experiencing.
Chase’s choreography is genius. He tells a remarkable story through dance and movement at multiple levels that involves every corner of the theatre available to him. He captures the audience’s attention and draws them in time and time again.
Venice plays through June 30 at the Public Theatre. Go to http://publictheatre.org for more information and to purchase your tickets. It is a night worth experiencing. When it comes to a very poignant, heart-wrenching, and emotional evening, Venice delivers. Mission accomplished.