Malcolm Stokes, Emily Neifert, David Stallings
Koppani Pusztai, and Antonio Miniño
Courtesy of C.Stanley Photography
What happens when we die? What truly matters while we’re alive? And why don’t we get to know the answers to either of those questions until it’s too late?
A modernized take on a fifteenth century morality play — the original likes of which is probably generally only commonly known in theater history courses — currently takes on the aforementioned questions while simultaneously providing Santa Fe audience with a delightful (and completely accessible) 90 minutes of theatre. Everybody, written by Brandon Jacobs-Jenkins, is currently in the midst of a run at the Santa Fe Playhouse, and this reviewer encourages audiences to make a point of checking it out while they can.
For those who may have never encountered, or perhaps have slept since the last time they were exposed to the original, Everybody is a take on what is arguably one of the more famous morality plays, Everyman, in which the titular character essentially examines what they have valued throughout life as they near death, and whether any of it does indeed matter.
It is not too much of a spoiler to say that Everybody follows the same general plot, but with significantly more contemporary language and approaches to the themes, as well as a very fun and unique twist: five actors within the core ensemble learn the roles of the titular Everybody, as well as those of allegorical characters such as Kinship, Stuff, and Friendship — the sorts of things people value throughout life, but that may very well let them down when it really matters. The show is effectively “cast” by lottery at the start of each performance, with the actors learning the results in real time along with the audience. This core ensemble, including (in alphabetical order), Antonio Miniño, Emily Neifert, Koppani Pusztai, David Stallings, and Malcolm Stokes (who won the role of Everybody at the performance this reviewer attended), absolutely shines in this production. Each actor is dynamic, compelling, and continually fun to watch – it is perhaps even the sort of production one might want to see multiple times, just to see how these talented performers take on all of the different roles.
In addition to this ensemble, the role of Death is engagingly played by Dharm Andrew Segal, and Usher, who serves as a guide into the world of this play, is played by a very warm and welcoming Bianca Thompson (who also served as intimacy director and child advocate on the production); Jess Haring gives a surprising and powerful portrayal of Love, and several young people (Annabelle Briggs, Mazen Litz, Rosa Maria Marsh-Martinez, and Amaya Thompson) share the important featured role of Time.
The Playhouse continues its trend of strong technical design, with lighting by Rob Siler, costumes by Lauren Chacon, Sound by Deon Custard, scenic/projection design by Andrew Freeburg, and props/puppet design by Katy Williams. Everybody was stage managed by Andy Gustke and Madrone Matysiak; it was directed by Zoe Lesser and Playhouse Artistic Director Robyn Rikoon.
Important information from the Santa Fe Playhouse website:
RUNTIME: 90 minutes
PERFORMANCE TIMES: Thursday, Friday, and Saturday 7:30PM and Saturday and Sunday 2:00PM through July 10th.
“Content Disclosure: This production includes conversations about death, identity, race, religion, sexuality, mental illness, and existential questions, one brief mention of incest, instances of profane and ableist language, and scenes with actors in a state of undress down to undergarments.Please also be aware that this production contains the use of strobe lighting effects and water-based haze.
In the light of the recent incident that occurred at a performance of Take Me Out on Broadway in which an audience member illegally and non-consensually took a photo of an actor performing nudity and uploaded it to the internet, the Santa Fe Playhouse would like to state unequivocally that taking photos and videos during this production is strictly prohibited. Violators will be escorted out of the theater, asked to delete any content of the show, and may no longer be welcome in this space. The safety of our community is our first priority, and we thank you for your cooperation.”
For more information, please visit https://santafeplayhouse.org/events/everybody/