By Hannah Boucher | Staff Writer
This weekend, the Pittsburgh debut of The Bloodless Jungle will be available to the public for free. Put on by Duquesne’s very own Red Masquers, the play will be performed this Friday and Saturday in the Genesius Theater.
The two-hour play centers around the African-American Senator Ethan St. John (Jahir Christian), and his struggle with staying true to his morals during his campaign for a seat in the U.S. Congress. As the Democratic Congressional Campaign (DCC) chair, more specifically, H. Henderson Hill (Julian Clark), pressures St. John to compromise his beliefs in order to win the election, he soon begins to realize that he does not want to play the cutthroat game of politics.
“It’s about modern-day politics, but how race and personal life play into that world. Today, your personal life is completely under the spotlight when you’re a politician,” director Mikayla Gilmer said.
The entire cast creates a cohesive, memorable experience for the audience. The actors convincingly portray middle-aged adults, capturing the maturity and complexity of real-life issues. From romantic relationships, longtime friendships or even professional-work relationships, the characters must find a balance between what is morally right, and what needs to be done.
Senator St. John is a relatable, wholesome character, whom you find yourself rooting for for the duration of the show. Christian perfectly captures the internal conflict of St. John, while still providing the audience with comedic relief at the appropriate times.
Cyrus Templeton III, best friend and campaign manager, played by Dominic Deluca is a reliable pal throughout the play. He always puts his friend, St. John, first, and encourages the senator to stay true to his beliefs. Deluca was very charismatic on stage, and was entirely convincing in his portrayal of the respectable lawyer.
St. John’s wife, Sydney, played by Jade Remar, is a lovable character. Her wit, charisma and grace fill the stage with some much-needed warmth in this cold political drama. Remar blew me away with her ability to portray such a complex character. There is one scene in particular during Act Two in which Sydney shares a long-held secret with her husband. Remar performs in such a way that when she is telling her story, she makes you feel like it’s between the two of you.
The director of the show, Gilmer, is making her directing debut at Duquesne with The Bloodless Jungle. Hand-selecting her cast and crew, Gilmer clearly knows how to put on a show. The whole creative team enhances the performance with the strategic lighting design, the stylish costumes and the creative set design. All aspects of the show come together, creating a true masterpiece.
The Bloodless Jungle is a wonderful start to the 2019-2020 theater season. It is truly a unique show, and will transport you into the life of a man trying to just do what’s right. The show will be performed in Genesius Theater, with the evening shows starting at 8 p.m., free of charge. Don’t miss this opportunity.