Endurance–Reviewed

 

Endurance

by Split Knuckle Theatre
adapted and created by Jason Bohon, Andrew Grusetskie, Michael F. Toomey, and Greg Webster, with writer Nick Ryan

June 28–July 15
Founders’ Theatre

***** (a must see)

shakespeare.org

I loved this show. I want you to see it and love it, too. It represents one of the funniest, most creative doses of comic relief in a long, long time.

Yes, that good.

But here’s the truly amazing thing: This is Split Knuckle theater at its best. There’s no director, just a script, four actors, and a determination to make this show great.

 

The scenery? Two tables, three garbage cans, one mop, and a whole lot of creativity. The true talents of this show are the four characters themselves, using their talent, voices, and small props to bring the stage alive, in one great collusion of harmony and sync. Each feeds off the other, working together like a fine timepiece.

Where do we start with this play? Let’s try at the beginning: Endurance. Endurance is the book about the greatest leader in modern history, Sir Ernest Shackleton. Shackleton was an explorer, a survivalist, and a hero whose story will be told for generations to come.

But if you think this show is only about Sir Ernest, you’re wrong. This show is about the modern epic of raw survival in the modern cubicle, during the great recession of 2008….9….10….and beyond. How do we apply Shack’s principles of raw survival to the greatest economic downturn in modern history, and leave the audience laughing the whole way? We apply creative magic, and that is what this play is all about.

Let’s give a brief background:

Shackleton set out to cross Antarctica in his boat the Endurance, to be the first to sail the continent via its seas. The Endurance became trapped in ice in January, 1915, in the Weddell Sea, and sank months later. The following November, after calling an ice floe home for months, and still no way out, the entire crew set sail in life boats to Elephant island. Then, Shackleton hand picked a few personality types to travel in a 20 foot boat 800 more miles for rescue, while leaving the rest of his crew behind. They lived, trapped, for nearly two years, living off seal and penguin, while Shackleton sailed 800 miles around icy seas in search for help from the whaling stations in South Georgia. Waves poured over the small 20 foot boat (which a carpenter reinforced), the top was covered with animal skins for warmth, and hands froze to oars in the face of bitter ice, wind and waves—800 miles of it in a 20 foot boat.

Not a man was lost. All were rescued. Shackleton’s adventures, heroism, and epic survivalism for both himself and his entire crew remain the benchmark of leadership today and forever.

Enter 2008.

A large insurance company is ready to go out of business, and a small claims unit of four has one fiscal quarter to get over 4,000 backlogged claims settled. The four have been working around the clock, each with their own set of problems at home. If the claims are not resolved, the department will be shut down. Summoned to the bosses, adjuster Walter Spivy finds he is actually promoted to supervisor, a job he never expected. He is suddenly in charge of his buddies. How can he motivate his team to work harder-faster-smarter to resolve the claims, in light of a recession with no remorse, overtime cut to the bone, morale at an all time low, and jobs on the line? Our fearless leader finds himself in the self-help section of the library, looking through management books of all sorts, trying to learn how to be a good leader. He stumbles upon a copy of Endurance, and reads the book to see how Shackleton motivated himself and his crew, so he can motivate his own crew to weather the storm of economic apocalypse and save his own sinking ship.

Moving between Endurance and cubicle in interweaving fashion, we follow both journeys to the bittersweet conclusions: Spivy looks to Shackleton, Shackleton’s crew becomes Spivy’s, ship becomes cubicle, and storm becomes recession.

This show rocks. Four great actors, three garbage cans, two tables, one mop, and a wholelotta fun and imagination apply real life adventure to the storm so many of us call the cubicle.

–Richard DiMaggio

    didyouweekend@gmail.com

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One thought on “Endurance–Reviewed

  1. I love going to plays but this may be the first one I wouldn’t mind seeing a second time. I can’t express it as well as Rich does but I concur. I can’t imagine anyone not liking Endurance. Creative, thought provoking, and even though it may have hit a little too close to home for me, very funny. Endurance is only here for about two weeks, so don’t miss it. You’ll be giving it a standing O just as we did.