“Hostage” – iTheatre Collaborative

Theater Review – January 22, 2019


iTheatre Collaborative, Kax Stage, Herberger Theater Center
Phoenix, AZ

“Hostage,” a powerful political drama set in 1980, has relevance today.  Michelle Kholos Brooks’ play is being presented in a winning Arizona premiere production by iTheatre Collaborative.

The play tells about Kevin Hermening’s incarceration when Tehran students took over the American Embassy and held 52 Americans for over a year.  The play imagines Kevin’s mother, Barbara, and a trip to visit her son in captivity.  Mother and son talk with Kevin’s guards about why United States actions have made Kevin a captive. It could just as easily be set today with the Afghanistans or Iranians.  People are implicated and impacted by their leaders who can’t relate to the effect of their actions on regular citizens.

The production is tightly directed by Christopher Haines who keeps the short play bristling with energy.  Haines uses the small Kax Stage at the Herberger Theater Center effectively and a well designed set creates multiple locations without cumbersome scene changes.

The play is well performed by a six-person acting ensemble.  The only negative was missed dialogue here and there that the performers telescoped by repeating the correct lines.  Usually performers can cover memory lapses more effectively.

Marlene Galan-Woods plays mother Barbara with concerned dedication to her son as she learns how to deal with her son’s guards so she can access him.  Jacob Nichols plays Kevin with frustration but with a reality of what he must do to survive his ordeal.  The guards are unusually lenient in allowing the pair to speak their minds but they constantly remind the pair why Kevin is imprisoned and why the situation exists.  Elizabeth Broeder and Xavier Morris play the guards with blunt and firm control.  The scenes revealing Kevin’s guards show why and how they successfully keep their prisoner controlled.

“Hostage” is not a comfortable play to watch but it insightfully shows the meaningless stupidity of war and how conflicts between people get dramatically out-of-hand.  You will leave moved by the impacts of war on soldiers and their families as well as the futility of fighting.  As we face similar political tensions today, “Hostage” reminds us that any hostilities can cause grave results.  “Hostage” continues through February 2.  For tickets, call the box office at 602-252-8497 or order tickets online at iTheatreaz.org.

Grade: A