Get Cultured — April 25, 2016 at 11:35 am

“Primary” is a Delightful Human Exploration



It’s such a special thing when in a tired political season you go to see a play and it refreshes your interest in the current race. To be relevant, reproducing a mirror America set in 1999, and to keep it endearing forces you to take a perspective you may have forgotten you had. A child-like perspective, one that is just opening to a new world and one that is just introducing her to adult disappointment. Gracie Gardner’s PRIMARY sets her play in 1999, and it just exposes how little the country has matured in between such leaps of growth.

Gardner puts us in a familiar setting. A white bred Connecticut middle class home where both parents are conservative. That’s almost every play out there! A suburban home with familiar dysfunction is off-Broadway’s favorite dish. But Gardner doesn’t give us conventional. Gardner throws us directly into the whirlwind of a political campaign with a cast of characters that are both endearing and frustrating. They are both selfish and care too much. All these characters have needs and desires beyond their  beliefs, but it’s how Gardner uses those aspects of their personality and turn around the cliche that makes this play work.

These characters are people, they are human, they have human relationships and ambitions. These are not general characters, but fully realized ones by an author that went the extra mile to give them the personality and actors that could make them exist. And these characters have decisions to make together, yet can’t see past their own immediate desire.

The play is not perfect. The plot lacks any type of high stake. As in the stakes never feel that high, they are all personal to each character. This takes away from the final decision. What it lacks in plot stakes it makes up for in exploration. Each decision they make lead them to a breakdown, a revelation, their own private truth exposed as soon as the chinks of the armies become too big to hide. With an endearing cast like this, it was easy for us to be absorbed and care enough to smile at the end.

Like I said before, this play takes the cliche suburban family play structure and stuck to it, but it still felt new. Like comfort food that somehow now tastes different and new. Gardner has definitely caught  my attention. This also puts on my radar the Sanguine Theater Company and their Project Playwright competition. Primary was the winner this year, and I can see why. If you are able to go see it, go! Don’t miss the show.

Out of 4 stars:


Twisted Talk: Have you been following this year’s election? Have you seen any productions by Sanguine Theater Company? Discuss below!


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