Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Washington, D.C.

Round House Theatre

Jefferson A. Russell and Alexandra Henrikson
Ironbound, Martyna Majok's play receiving its world premiere at Round House Theatre in Bethesda, Maryland, is an intimate and heartfelt look at one of the groups of people left behind in the current economy: the men and women who worked hard at low-wage jobs, becoming increasingly desperate as the factories shut down and the jobs got sent offshore.

Majok's protagonist, determined and sometimes maddening, is Darja (Alexandra Henrikson), who emigrated to New Jersey from Poland in 1992 with her then-husband, Maks (Josiah Bania). The scenes jump backward and forward in time, the men in Darja's life change, but the constant setting—another breathtaking design by James Kronzer—is a desolate bus stop in an abandoned industrial area, now barren except for the multi-lane highway overhead. (The symbolism of "the bus never comes" may be obvious, but the design looks stunning.)

The program notes explain that "Ironbound" refers to a section of Newark, New Jersey, once hemmed in by factories, now isolated by the decaying shells of those industrial buildings. Darja is also bound to her surroundings as she fights for her own life and that of her (unseen) adult son, who stranded her when he left home with her car.

Darja is spending her life determined to pull herself out of her downward spiral, both economic and emotional, and that puts a lot of stress on her relationships. The audience sees her as a giddy young woman with Maks, who dreams of a blues-singing career (in Polish) in Chicago; older and embittered, dealing with the betrayal of her boyfriend Tommy (Jefferson A. Russell); and forging a tentative bond with Vic (William Vaughan), a teenager also fighting to survive.

Daniella Topol's sensitive direction pays attention to the details of each character and never allows them to become stereotypes or cartoons. Henrikson gives a dynamic performance that clarifies Darja's actions and attitudes, some of which may seem counterproductive to people viewing them from the outside. When survival is the only thing that matters, a few niceties will have to be sacrificed.

Round House Theatre
September 9th - October 4th
By Martyna Majok
Darja: Alexandra Henrikson
Tommy: Jefferson A. Russell
Maks: Josiah Bania
Vic: William Vaughan
Directed by Daniella Topol
4545 East-West Highway
Bethesda, MD
Ticket Information: 240-564-1100 or

Photo: Cheyenne Michaels

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