Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Philadelphia

Lydie Breeze Part 1: Cold Harbor
EgoPo Classic Theater
Review by Rebecca Rendell | Season Schedule

Also see Rebecca's review of Passing Strange

The Cast
Photo by Dave Sarrafian
The epic first installment of John Guare's Lydie Breeze trilogy (significantly rewritten and restructured for this staging) is intensely uncomfortable. There are waves of pointless death, nefariousness on the Union side of the Civil War, a heroine whose motivations are morally ambiguous, a narration we cannot trust, grotesque unearthly creatures, and a sparse eerie score. In spite of this uneasiness, or perhaps because of it, those of us willing to suffer through the discomfort with Lydie are rewarded with a story that is surprisingly insightful and riveting.

At the battle of Cold Harbor, Virginia, on the front lines of the Civil War, bodies are piling up fast. Before the Union soldiers march off to die they hand their most precious possessions over to a young nurse for safekeeping. Lydie (played with confidence and palpable grit by Melanie Julian) must decide whether to stay on the front lines and keep her promises or to risk everything to get supplies for the injured soldiers. Along the way she comes to share a common purpose with three very different men: mysterious and intellectual Joshua (Charlie DelMarcelle), earnest Amos (Ed Swidey), and opportunistic Dan (David Girard). While they travel behind the front lines Lydie reads from her journal, telling her new companions the story of how she became involved in the war.

The complicated relationship between storytelling and truth looms large throughout Cold Harbor and we are frequently reminded that both plotlines may be warped by the journals that record them. Lane Savadove's exquisite production blurs the line between history and mythology. Like a great arc rising from the ground, Markéta Fantová's solid set transports Lydie and her crew from the battlefield to the cabin of a boat and the beaches of Nantucket. Mike Inwood's spectacular lighting adds intensity and an uncanny sense of mystery. From simple period dress to supernatural animals, Marie Anne Chiment's costumes are spot on.

Unapologetic, empowered, and imperfect, Julian's Lydie Breeze is an unexpectedly modern heroine. Savadove's bewildering world is oddly familiar. There are moments when Cold Harbor feels expansive and inaccessible, but its message of hope in a relentlessly violent world goes right to the heart.

Lydie Breeze, Part I: Cold Harbor at EgoPo Classic Theater through February 11, 2018, at the Christ Church Neighborhood House, 20 N. American Street, Philadelphia PA. For tickets call 267-273-1414 or visit

Director: Lane Savadove
Composer: Cynthia Hopkins
Music Director: Jay Ansill
Set Designer: Marketa Fantova
Costume Designer: Marie Anne Chiment
Lighting Designer: Mike Inwood
Stage Manager: Jamel Baker
Technical Coordinator: Philadelphia Scenic Works
Costumer: Jamie Grace-Duff
Assoc. Director: Dane Eissler
Assoc. Lighting Designer: Amanda Clegg Lyon
Asst. Director: Katie Kiessling
Asst. Costume Designer: Kierceton Keller

Lydie: Melanie Julian*
Joshua: Charlie DelMarcelle*
Amos: Ed Swidey*
Dan: David Girard*
Terrill Braswell
Andrew J. Carroll
Nathan Foley
Victoria Goins
Hannah Gold
Mark Knight
Shamus Hunter McCarty
Marcellus McQueen
Frank Nardi, Jr.
Amanda Jill Robinson
Kristy Joe Slough
Grant Struble
Jahzeer Terrell
Hannah Van Sciver
Clara Weishahn
Kylie Westerbeck
David Strattan White
Philip Wilson **Actors appearing with permission of Actors' Equity Association*