Bound to the Rocks, written by Laura Katherine Hayes and produced by Something About KAZ, deals with domestic violence in a relationship. Based on the music of Sylvan Esso, this play is full of dynamic movement and interesting musical interludes, which are complicated by a narrative structure that doesn’t always lend itself to the weight of the content.
The plot itself is deeply reflective, exploring the cyclical nature of relationships between women and men and how belief systems about marriage are passed from one generation to the next. The actress playing the mother was obviously very talented, as she managed some of the more challenging scenes with aplomb. The actor and actress who played the children added an interesting element to the play, as their role was more symbolic, representing their relationship to the world they were born in to and the restrictive nature of gender binaries.
Although the non-linear narrative was innovative, the jumps forwards and backwards in time convoluted the plot. The movement included to supplement the feeling of the vagaries of time gave this piece a manic feeling; as if each character were inhabiting their own world and struggled to control their actions. I’m not sure that I buy the idea that men and women are unable to free themselves from socially constructed roles, but Bound to the Rocks does commit to the idea and follows through on its main thread to the end.
The play handles heavy material, including domestic violence. While it is my belief that it was meant to show the ugly nature of an abusive relationship, I found myself wishing that the characters had been more fleshed out so that I could understand why they reacted the way they did. Likewise, it was unclear whether the characters divorced or decided to stay together in the end due to the structure and time jumps. This is probably the biggest weakness, as each of these actions has huge implications for the overall message of this play.
Bound to the Rocks will interest anyone who is curious about the nature of modern relationships between men and women. The acting and singing were top notch, and the production quality was easily one of the most professional at Fringe. By the end, I was still not sure what to make of the play since it seemed only to offer the same solutions to an abusive relationship that have been offered in the past. Giving the characters a bit more to work with may help to balance out some of the cynicism of the plot, as would clarifying the intention through some sort of positive action or narrative restructuring.
Running Time: 55 minutes, with no intermission.
Bound to the Rocks played through November 12, 2017, at the 322 Loft – 322 North Howard Street, in Baltimore, MD. Tickets and Charm City Fringe Festival buttons may be purchased at Fringe HQ (Le Mondo, 406 N Howard Street), the venue, or online.
Baltimore’s historic Lexington Market is joining DC Theater Arts in support of our coverage of the Charm City Fringe Festival. The Market closes at 6 PM on weekdays and is closed Sundays, but we recommend that Fringe-goers stop by on Saturday to grab lunch and take a look around, in addition to checking out the local bands which play from 12:00 PM to 2:00 PM.