LakehouseRanchDotPNG Presents the World Premiere of "Plague Play" | Miami New Times


Young, Theatrically Different Miami Company Presents World Premiere of Plague Play

Erin Proctor's Plague Play is a reinterpretation of chapters 7 to 11 in the biblical Book of Exodus.
Ruki Etti, Jedhi Weir, Kyran Wright, and Lucy Lopez are plunged into darkness in the world premiere of Erin Proctor's Plague Play.
Ruki Etti, Jedhi Weir, Kyran Wright, and Lucy Lopez are plunged into darkness in the world premiere of Erin Proctor's Plague Play. Photo by Juan Gamero
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Though the world is constantly evolving, the lessons of the past can have deep relevance to life as we live it today — if we pay heed.

Listen carefully to the words in Erin Proctor’s world premiere Plague Play, and you’ll discover in her take on the ten Biblical plagues of Egypt more than just a stinging examination of violence begetting violence. It is also a resonant contemplation of envy, love, family, fear, longing, PTSD, and the piling on of disasters.

Plague Play opens the second season — all world premieres — for LakehouseRanchDotPNG. The company’s name may be a little unwieldy (it evolved from a road trip artistic director Brandon Urrutia and set designer Indy Sulliero once took), but its purpose is clearly defined and something scarce in South Florida theater: producing absurdist and experimental works.

LakehouseRanch presents its plays in the intimate Artistic Vibes space in Kendall. (Located in an area full of warehouses and offices, Artistic Vibes is on the second floor of a two-story office building.) Proctor is one of the company’s three resident playwrights; the others are Riley Elton McCarthy, whose Rabbit premieres November 10-19, and MacKenzie Raine, whose play Push. premieres January 12-21.
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Ruki Etti and Lucy Lopez play the supportive women in the LakehouseRanch world premiere of Erin Proctor's Plague Play.
Photo by Juan Gamero
Staged by Urrutia, a Florida International University grad like most others in the company, Plague Play is Proctor's retelling/interpretation of Chapters 7 to 11 in the Biblical Book of Exodus.

The New York-based playwright uses plenty of contemporary language (including f-bombs), particularly in scenes involving the shifting relationship of brothers Moses (Kyran Wright) and Aaron (Jedhi Weir). But she also summons beautiful imagery in the affectionate exchanges between Moses’ wife, Tzipporah (Lucy Marie Lopez), and Aaron’s twin, Miriam (Ruki Etti), and the loving memories shared by Moses and Tzipporah. There are laughs, too, as improbable as that may seem in a play about plagues.

For anyone interested in Plague Play, it is helpful to do an internet refresher on the story of Moses and Aaron trying to convince the Pharoah, King Ramses II, to free the enslaved Israelites. Prophet Moses predicts the increasingly horrific plagues visited on the hard-hearted Pharoah and his people, while God works through the increasingly agitated Aaron to deliver them one by one. Having the basic storyline, characters, and place names in mind enables a deeper dive into Proctor’s play.
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Jedi Weir's Aaron gets a ribbing from Kyle Kyran Wright's Moses and Ruki Etti's Miriam in Plague Play.
Photo by Juan Gamero
Urrutia and company meet the script’s creative demands in simple ways. Turning water into blood is accomplished by Leonardo Urbina’s lighting. Little plastic frogs emerge from Sulliero’s set; ditto, the later plague of locusts. Irritating gnats are evoked by the buzzing cast. As Aaron, Weir delivers a vividly disturbing speech about the wild beasts emerging from his body. Plagues of boils, fiery hail, darkness, and the death of firstborn children follow.

Running about 80 minutes, Plague Play is captivating throughout, even though you realize (thanks to projected words in Hebrew and English) that you’re going through a kind of countdown of the plagues. Urrutia’s staging in the small space and the performances of the four actors take the audience on a journey that, against all odds, remains suspenseful.

Wright plays Moses as a man conflicted by his love for his seven-years-older siblings Aaron and Miriam and his loyalty to Pharoah, with whom he was raised as a brother. His sibling rivalry scenes with Weir’s Aaron and his tender ones with Lopez’s Tzipporah are among the most effective in the play.

Weir conveys many of the most intense emotional moments in Plague Play, and at times you can feel his Aaron is on the verge of imploding. His speech about the horrors of war, as he refuses to celebrate victory over Pharoah, is shattering.
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Kyran Wright's Moses and Lucy Lopez's Tzipporah share a tender moment in Erin Proctor's Plague Play.
Photo by Juan Gamero
The play’s women are different, too.

Lopez’s Tzipporah is a loving, worried stranger in a strange land who expresses her concerns but inevitably follows the lead of her beloved Moses. Etti's Miriam is more a salt-of-the-earth type, a solid and sacrificing woman who is quietly vital to the other three. Underlining their distinctiveness, costume (and sound) designer Maleeha Naseer clothes them in different styles and contrasting shades of orange and turquoise (the men wear simple red or yellow shirts, loose pants, and sandals).

LakehouseRanch is a young company limited in budget (hence its two-weekend runs) but long on imagination. The talent involved is obvious, and the kind of work Urrutia and his colleagues want to create can add to the rich mosaic of theater in South Florida.

– Christine Dolen,

Plague Play. 8 p.m. Friday through Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday through August 27, at Artistic Vibes, 8846 SW 129th Ter., Suite B, Miami; 786-427-4721; Tickets cost $15.
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