Best New Play Miami 2014 - Fear Up Harsh
Few works, new or established, were as instantly visionary as Christopher Demos-Brown's Fear Up Harsh. The play, which premiered in an acclaimed production at Zoetic Stage, opened on a delirious gamble, in which the carnage of a war zone played in complete blackness, its actions bleeding into the next scene in a traumatic, time-shifting cacophony. The effect was dizzying and whiplash-inducing but never less than compelling, and it set the stage for a Brechtian exercise in the lingering effects of war (and awards) that deservedly won the Best New Work statuette at the 2013 Carbonell Awards. The hierarchies of rank, the politics of medals, the shameful horror of "enhanced interrogation techniques," and the struggles of being a single dad who is also a wheelchair-bound veteran coalesced into a 21st-century American tragedy that was also, when it wanted to be, one of the funniest plays of the year. Demos-Brown's knack for finding believably comic conversational nooks within a more damning, bigger picture cannot be understated; though, as he has said, some of the play's best lines developed from working out the production organically with his cast. Whatever the formula, it played out magnificently on the Arsht Center stage.