Trap Door Theatre’s interpretation of “Emma, ” Howard Zinn’s portrayal of a captivating radical, succeeds phenomenally in the company’s mission statement of bringing life to difficult stage text. Zinn’s no studied playwright, and his depiction of anarchist, feminist and free-loving Emma Goldman involves heavy use of polemic and endless impassioned speeches. The twenty-three scenes that compose the play attempt to cover an ambitious number of years in Emma’s life, so that had the acting dragged even for a moment, the show could have lost cohesion altogether. It didn’t. Trap Door counteracts the play’s broad chronological scope and sometimes leaden messages of capitalist evil and police brutality with beautifully choreographed, fast-paced scenes, ingenious use of props and space, well-chosen music by the Sex Pistols, Gil Scott-Heron and Jewel, and a DIY black-box ethos that informs the message and elevates it, even frees it, from the script. Vibrant, even electrifying acting across the board, with a particularly dazzling Beata Pilch as Emma. (Monica Westin)
At Trap Door Theatre, 1655 West Courtland, (773)384-0494. This production is now closed.