by Run Boy Run Productions
Review by Paige Anderson
Underground Episodes is a tour de force. Allen Clark of Run Boy Run Productions, the writer/producer/director, brought this complex, intersecting world of passengers on a Philadelphia train to life with immersive staging, vivid language, a moody and effective soundtrack, and a powerful cast of thirteen talented and committed actors who grab your emotions and don’t let go.
This beautiful play is intense and riveting, a powerful blend of prose, poetry, music, theatre, and even dance, with stories about relationships, work, parenting, poverty, economic change, war, recovery, disability, despair and hope, connection and dislocation, revealed through the characters’ interactions with one another, and with the audience, and often through poetic monologues. The characters are compellingly real and driven; they want connection, or absolution, or understanding: they want to be heard. They ask each other questions that resonate: “You don’t know me. Why are you calling me a lost soul?” “You’re supposed to be at work. Why are you on this train?” “Did I tell you I was a dancer?” They create indelible moments: the desperate mother thrusting her flyers at train passengers, seeking news of her missing child; the palpable grief and despair of the man who lost his brother to a futile war over oil; the woman who explodes in rage at her child, filled with anguish because of the absent husband who left her with this “identical image.” And so, so much more.
Underground Episodes is filled with the “unbearable poetry” of everyday interactions. It makes you think, and it breaks your heart.