Regional Reviews: Philadelphia
Pay No Worship
In some ways, Pay No Worship is a small play–two actors playing two cousins working on a small island–but's its emotional impact is profound and its message is as essential as the Earth itself. Playwright Francisca Da Silveira tells an engaging and unexpected story with evocative dialogue. Troy D. Wallace and Saiir Foy-Coles present the heartfelt and charmingly awkward affection the cousins have for each other. Director Tyrone L. Robinson keeps pace brisk, but allows the big themes and plot twists to unfold with deliberate patience.
On the tiny island of Fogo–one of the ten volcanic islands that make up the country of Cape Verde–cousins Martin and Jose talk and daydream while harvesting grapes on a small vineyard. Martin misses air-conditioning, cold showers, and his old life as a student in Europe. He cannot wait to get off the island and go to America. His cousin Jose dreams about women while snapping photos for his Instagram. He appreciates the island's laid-back rhythm and his life, which so many of his remote followers clearly envy. Things start to slip sideways when a tropical storm threatens to destroy everything around them.
More than just an intimate portrait of two cousins, Pay No Worship is a beautiful story about the negative impact American-style consumerism has on the people who practice it and the folks who would rather have nothing to do with it. Da Silveira wants us to ask how anyone can be happy in a world where uniform donut confections are more desirable than sun-drenched grapes and the climate is terrifyingly less stable every day.
Saiir Foy-Coles plays perpetually frustrated, always sympathetic, and occasionally infuriating Martin. It is captivating to watch Foy-Coles' Martin struggling to come to terms with his changing place in the world. Troy D. Wallace brings real confidence and serenity to the role of Jose. The pair's chemistry is authentic and the ebb and flow of their conversation is mesmerizing.
Colin McIlvaine's scenic design establishes the setting and the mood: a sunny farm on a tropical island beset by a grim sense foreboding. Lily Fossner's dynamic lighting designs bring the audience into the cousins' world and create a sense of increasing tension. Ryk Lewis' sound design is excellent, and Eli Lynn directs an achingly realist fight sequence. The entire crew brings Da Silveira's vision to life with deft skill.
Pay No Worship runs through April 23, 2023, at the The Drake Hotel, Proscenium Theatre, 302 S. Hicks Street, Philadelphia PA. For tickets and information, please visit www.interacttheatre.org/pay-no-worship.