Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: San Francisco/North Bay

Isaac's Eye
The Custom Made Theatre Co.
Review by Richard Connema | Season Schedule

Also see Richard's reviews of Assassins and Where All Good Rabbits Go

Adam Niemann (facing away), Gabriel A. Ross
and Robin Gabrielli

Photo by Jay Yamada
The Custom Made Theatre Co., who is committed to producing plays that awaken our social conscience, focuses on the strength of the ensemble and creating an intimate theatrical experience in their 99-seat show place. Currently they are presenting Lucas Hnath's Isaac's Eye.

Isaac's Eye is about Sir Isaac Newton, who lived around 1665 in England during the time of the Great Plague. He was a mathematical genius who published two major works, "Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy" (commonly called the "Principia") and 1704's "Opticks."

Playwright Lucas Hnath wrote The Christians and is one of the hot new writers of today. He likes to pit truth against imaginary to see which captures the most reality. Don't be alarmed, but this play is not very intellectual. The four actors on stage are excellent and perform in modern dress. Their language is contemporary, hilarious, and a poignant exploration of love, greatness, and the nature of truth. Isaac's Eye is full of deadpan humor and historical and no so historical facts. Hnath exposes and formulates the motivations that drove a young farm boy to become one the greatest thinkers in history.

We are introduced to: The Narrator and The Dying Beggar (Adam Niemann), Isaac Newton (Gabriel A. Ross), Robert Hooke (Robin Gabrielli), who is with the prestigious Royal Academy and one of the most celebrated scientists of his day, and Catherine (Jeunée Simon), Newton's sometimes girlfriend.

The playwright pits two ruthless thinkers against each another in a battle of wits while playing a stimulating game of meta-theatrics, calling attention to the way we establish truth onstage through deception and imagination. The audience keeps score regarding the truth through notes written on three white boards surrounding the stage.

Director Oren Stevens has assembled four wonderful actors to present this comical drama. Gabriel A. Ross is outstanding in the role of unruly, punkish Isaac Newton. He wants to be a personal celebrity come hell or high water. He has a way of speaking that is entertaining. Robin Gabrielli (a Boston transplant) is properly sarcastic in the role of Robert Hooke, the towering rival to Isaac Newton. He gives a wonderful performance as the womanizing and highbrow control freak. Adam Niemann is excellent as the Narrator and the Dying Beggar. Jeunée Simon gives a splendid performance as Catherine, the affectionate lyrical love interest of Isaac.

Bottom Line: Isaac's Eye is a gripping, enthralling, and mind expanding experience.

Isaac's Eye runs through March 11, 2017, at The Custom Made Theatre Co., 533 Sutter Street, San Francisco. Coming up next is Wendy MacLeod's The House of Yes from March 30th through April 29, 2017.

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