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A Sell-Out Run and a Great Review for CROSS

Bob Criso of Hi! Drama Reviews “CROSS”


Written by Jesse Cramer
Directed by Johnna Scrabis
Hot Metal Arts Collective

The play is short: one hour. The plot is simple: a young man meets with a former camp counselor to discuss what happened “that night” seven years ago. The set is elementary: a park bench. The action is what transpires between the two characters during a conversation.

James (J. Samuel Horvath) had an anxiety attack one night at camp and Simon (Matt Davidson), a counselor, let him stay in his bed. Few specific details are given as to what happened. This one-time occurrence however, raises questions that the viewer is forced to wrestle with — and therein lies the strength of this drama. How accurate is either of their memories? Was Simon being protective or exploitive? Did James, a troubled foster care kid, set this up to satisfy his own needs? Simon initially seems defensive but who actually wields the real power during their talk? Will their meeting have a tender or combative conclusion?

Jesse Cramer adroitly blurs the lines and the boundaries between the characters and their memories and in the process challenges the audience to process what they have heard and come to their own conclusions. The audience is the jury and we are attentive to every word, looking for clues. The same issues, of course, are being played out in many lawsuits around the country and the world, as the title suggests. On the surface, the hard facts seem simple but the more each of the characters talks, the more complex it gets. What is truth — after all, maybe both of them are right in their own minds. Maybe ambiguity is the only real truth we can have in some situations.

Mr. Davidson gives a solid and convincing performance, conveying a wide range of emotions with good timing. Mr. Horvath, slyly plays with the ambiguities well, though he may have overplayed the smirk on his face.

This short piece, like its author, shows real potential for further development into a more fully expanded and suspenseful drama, one that could be a real contribution to the issues at hand.

(Unfortunately, “Cross” ran for only two performances at 124 Bank Street but hopefully it will have opportunities to return in the future.)


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