‘The Ice Child’ at Factory 449 by Erica Laxson

Chilling Food For Thought

For just a moment, consider the thing you’d hate doing most in the world, for the next 20 years or so, and the only reason you’re thrust into this uncomfortable position is because someone you trusted is forcing you to do so. Factory 449’s presentation of The Ice Child presents such a case, and the audience is taken on an ethereal ride of video and live performance that soothes us into a terrifyingly icy sleep.

(Left) David Landstrom (Wilson) and (Right) Dexter William Hamlett (Kidd). Photo by C. Stanley Photography.

Director Hunter Styles uses minimalism less as a style and more of an advantage. Playing off the feeling of cold and frozen, Steve Cosby’s plain white set perfectly fits Styles’ show. Video Designer Jesse Achtenberg captures the stream of thoughts and feelings the dialogue forces us to feel and funnels them directly into the empathetic areas of our brain. Mental frostbite delivered via video..

Sara Barker (Catherine) put on a brave face, but her character slowly slips from incredulously to outright terrified. Each gradual change of emotion plays across her face, helped by Lighting Designer Joseph R. Walls’ use of colors to set the mood of each scene. Barker perfectly portrays the futile terror any of us would feel in her shoes.

Dexter Wilson Hamlett (Kidd) personifies every quirk a shudder worthy creep could possibly have, and I’m certain if I were to see Hamlett on the street, I’d run the other way. With a soft, controlled voice and a misplaced sense of moral integrity, Kidd is not the only character that earns our derision, but is the most deserving of it.

Karin Rosnizeck (Nanni), David Landstrom (Wilson) (on video screen) and Dexter Wilson Hamlett (Kidd). Photo by C. Stanley Photography.

Karin Rosnizeck (Nanni) is a puzzle of a woman, all the way to the end. Her jaded tone and sense of self-righteousness seems over the top, but once we see her husband, Kidd, all is easily forgiven. That is, until we see our first and only true look at the the type of person she is, and it can be hard to look away.

David Landstrom (Wilson) is innocence bred with stupidity, or outright complacency. While loyal, his failure to act is downright infuriating. The easiest to connect to in the play, Landstrom is perfect at showing us the helplessness of it all. The audience is forced to think about what we’d do in his position and not everyone liked what they saw in themselves.

The Ice Child is a must see for anyone willing to look upon a horrible, but easily conceivable slice of life. Be prepared to shift uncomfortably in your seat and feel the pressure of terror closing in on you. I promise, it’s fun!

Running Time: About one hour with no intermission.

The Ice Child plays through June 3, 2012 at Mead Theatre Lab at Flashpoint – 916 G St., NW in Washington, DC. To purchase tickets call  (866) 811-4111, or purchase them online.

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