Review: The Arsonists at Capital Stage

The Arsonists

Which is the worse fashion sin? Furry cuffs or wrinkled plaid?

Which is the worse fashion sin? Furry cuffs or wrinkled plaid?

Photo courtesy of Capital Stage

Showtimes: Thu 7pm, Fri 8pm, Sat 2pm & 8pm, Sun 2pm, Wed 7pm. Through April 15; $28-$40; Capital Stage, 2215 J Street; (916) 995-5464;
Rated 4.0

From the opening moments of The Arsonists, playwright Jacqueline Goldfinger pulls the audience into the deep, dark recesses of the Northern Florida swamps and its murky, quirky inhabitants.

This intense, compacted 70-minute play about father-daughter arsonists-for-hire, is a strange and beautiful weaving-together of Southern Gothic tales and the Greek mythology Electra, with a dozen traditional folk tunes sung by the two-person cast.

Family relationships, secrets, losses and binding love are achingly brought to life by the talented duo of Megan Wicks and Rich Hebert. The setting is a rustic family cabin with wooden slats askew, the bare necessities of life and the riggings and tools of the arson trade—all surrounded by flickering lights and the haunted sounds of the bayou.

Wicks and Hebert are in sync with each other and the story—Hebert as the protective and proud father (identified in the program as “H”), and Wicks as the strong, fearless, yet vulnerable daughter (identified as “M”), directed with the right blend of intensity and delicacy by Gail Dartez. Wicks is mesmerizing as she wears her internal emotional struggles on her tattered sleeves.

My only wish is that the tale was just a tad longer to explore some of the mysteries of the intriguing career of professional fire-bugs.

Worth noting: Sacramento’s Capital Stage is one of four theaters in the country debuting The Arsonists as part of the National New Play Network’s rolling world premiere program.