Andromeda Breaks, written by Stephen Spotswood and directed by Nick Martin, takes the initial form of a police interrogation. At the outset, Andromeda (Billie Krishawn) sits handcuffed to a metal table, awaiting police detective Percy (Jeremy Keith Hunter), who begins his rather informal questioning concerning a lengthy list of charges, most of which are not specifically discussed later.
The prisoner and the cop, it turns out, have many more connections with one another, and much more in common, than they know or are willing to admit at first. In particular, their ties to Andromeda’s parents, who run the local organized crime outfit, become a key to understanding their relationship. As the play proceeds, the power dynamic between them shifts, more than once. It is evident from the outset that this is a script that will have a twist at the ending, though Spotswood does a good job of not revealing too early the shape that the twist will take.
In his program notes, Spotswood describes the play as re-imagining of the Greek myth of Andromeda as a Southern Gothic noir, a story of “two people fighting against a corrupt Olympus,” in which Andromeda has the power and agency to save herself.
Indeed, Spotswood drops numerous, sometimes humorous, references that an audience hopefully has enough familiarity with the Greek myth to catch (e.g., the police have busted a nest of Gorgons). The conceit of viewing the Greek pantheon as a sort of mafia is a nice one. While the show is labeled as “Southern gothic,” the script and its presentation do not seem to make the locale – rural and small town that it is – feel particularly Southern.
Krishawn and Hunter both handle their characters’ transitions effectively. She begins feeling intimidated by her circumstances, especially when she learns that her parents have apparently abandoned her, and grows in assurance and power through to the end of the play. He begins feeling comfortably in control, gradually realizing that his power is eroding in the face of Andromeda’s probing into his past. They succeed in building a credible relationship between their characters, and their timing is consistently on point.
Martin centers his direction of the play around its only set piece – a metal table with two chairs. The two characters exchange positions from time to time, stand or sit, mostly at or around center stage: this is not a movement-focused production. Rather, Martin lets the characters carry on their conversations with little distraction.
The sound design (Gordon Nimmo-Smith) and lighting design (Jason Aufdem-Brinke) work well together. For the most part, the characters are in central white lighting, with occasional use of specials or, in a few sequences, broader, colored lighting (especially reds) matched with atmospheric sounds (e.g., water rushing).
Running Time: 55 minutes, with no intermission.
Andromeda Breaks plays through July 22, 2018, at Arena Stage – 1101 6th St SW, in Washington, DC. For tickets, call 866-811-4111, or purchase them online.