“Red Light Winter” Produced by Azeotrope, performed at ACT

“Red Light Winter” like “25 Saints” is another play that will hit you in the solar plexus. Azeotrope is running both of these productions in repertory as part of ACT’s Central Heating Lab initiative. Here too Desdemona Chiang directed, and the acting is superb.

Richard Nguyen Sloniker and Tim Gouran play two college friends grown up. Gouran, as Davis, is a successful book editor. Sloniker, as Matt, is a struggling playwright. It’s hard to believe these two have maintained their friendship over the years because they are such different personalities, but each meets needs in the other. Matt is gentle, sweet, insecure. Davis is brash, cruel, totally egocentric.

Red Light - Sloniker Mariel and Tim in focus

Photo by Benito Vasquez

When both are in Amsterdam, Davis, after thoroughly enjoying her services himself, brings a gorgeous prostitute to Matt. He thinks a little sex might loosen up his depressed friend. Mariel Neto as Christina the prostitute is, in many ways, the beautiful girl next door, even as she is the well practiced, extremely competent lady of pleasure. She undresses for Matt, puts on a slinky red gown and transforms herself from sweet to sensuous.

A year later, Matt sits in his tiny New York apartment, struggling with his writing when who should appear at his door but Christina. We learn that Matt has been obsessed with her since their encounter in Amsterdam. We also learn that Christina, like so many women, prefers brutal men to compassionate ones. Matt doesn’t stand a chance.

Actually there’s no redemption for any of them. Of course Christina and Matt are doomed, but even the always successful Davis will have his meeting with the grim reaper. The playwright cleverly has him sow the seeds of his own destruction in a moment of his most vile and vicious behavior.

Award winning playwright Adam Rapp has given us a finely wrought, tightly wound piece (nominated for a Pulitzer in 2006). He likes to see his plays on small stages where the audience is close to the action, where they experience the raw visceral power of it all. You’ll experience that in this production.

Through Nov. 24 in The Eulalie Scandiuzzi Space at ACT Theatre, 700 Union Street, Seattle, (206 292-7676 or www.acttheatre.org).









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