Ruined--a magnificent exploration of power and leadership.
More than one friend has told me he or she was taking a pass on seeing Ruined at Intiman Theatre because of the subject matter. I implore you: Don’t make that same mistake. The run was extended to August 15–and you’ll be enormously rewarded if you go.
Ruined is about power. It's also about the appalling torture and degradation of women in the civil-war-ravaged Democratic Republic of Congo, hence the reluctance of some would-be patrons. But it is not a downer play. You will not leave the theater depressed. Enlightened maybe. And certainly focused. But not despondent. Lynn Nottage won a Pulitzer Prize for crafting this human–and humanistic–tale. And Intiman’s new artistic director, Kate Whoriskey, subject of Brangien Davis’ Spotlight feature in our August issue, has brought it to life with a cast that is stunningly spectacular, and largely intact from Whoriskey’s much-praised productions of Ruined in Chicago (Goodman Theatre) and New York (Manhattan Theatre Club).
For me, Ruined will forever live in the expressive face of Condola Rashad – yes, she’s Phylicia’s daughter–whose wide-eyed portrayal of a young woman named Sophie speaks achingly of innocence, maturity, anger, compassion and ultimately hope among the ruined. But the performances of every major player–including Quincy Tyler Bernstine, Cherise Boothe, Russell G. Jones, David St. Louis, Tom Mardirosian, Carl Cofield, Tongayi Chirisa and the magnificent, surnameless Portia–make Ruined a theater experience so relevant and elegant that, if I’m not a better citizen of the world for having seen it, I’m at least better informed and better able to articulate what morality is.
If you can’t find time this week but happen to be in L.A. this fall, go see Ruined at the Geffen Playouse. The same Whoriskey-directed production runs there from September 7 to October 17. Trust me: It is so worth the effort.