RICHARD III meets THE SIMPSONS
Richard III: Even though Grant Wilson is such a evil and tyrannical figure, he still harnesses a charisma that's allowed him to have control over his family for decades.
The Simpsons: The less than competent patriarch, the mild-mannered supportive wife, the dumb and reckless son and the supremely intelligent daughter.
We start off with the family playing a Risk like board game. In these opening moments, the whole family are using political war terminology and are all wrapped up in the game. After the Mother and daughter win, Grant Wilson takes losing sorely and flips the table in anger. For the girls, the game is over. For Grant Wilson, the game never ends.
The play is set on a ranch in Nevada, in the kitchen/study of the Grant residence AKA the central hub of the State of Callipoly, a country founded by the figurehead of the family, Grant Wilson. For the past two decades Grant has been ruling his house as a political figure, concocting imaginary interviews with himself that are made only to boost his ego. The plot comes from a somewhat typical neighborly dispute over land boundaries. But for Grant Wilson, this is a declaration of war and he is willing to risk everything but his pride.
It was more dramatic than I expected. The comedy is of such a dark nature as you end up feeling sorry for the rest of the family being stuck with Grant as the family Patriarch. While Grant is the figurehead, the real star is the intelligent and resourceful daughter Savannah (Emma Center). At the beginning, she came across as just a typical high school girl that felt weirded out by her family. But as the story progresses, Savannah becomes the free-thinking hero, desperately trying to protect her brainwashed family from their dictator dad.
Dave Crossland plays Grant with the bravado and authority of a nightmarish drill sergeant that was absolutely captivating throughout. There is a real entertainment watching Grant rambunctiously throw a hissy fit over every little thing not going his way. However I would have liked Grant to have more redeemable qualities. It was so easy to dislike him the way he treated everyone. I would have loved to see what he was like when he first founded Callipoli. Maybe he started out idealistic, desperately chasing the perfect utopia that America failed to deliver to him.
There were two different music scores that really stuck out for me. One was a Soviet-esque type of anthem, the other was this ominous surfer rock, desert track that set the tone of the play.
The relationship between religion and state was interesting. Grant puts himself on the same level if not higher than god. He manipulates religion to fit his own values
Colby Rummell plays the son as a brainwashed future school shooter that wouldn't of looked out of place in the Hitler Youth. He came across incredibly dense and gross but you feel sorry for him because he is a product of his upbringing. The wife played by Dalia Vosylius as the god fearing religious mother who is subservient to her husband. Ra Hanna plays the reasonable neighbor with such a nonchalant realism it perfectly contrasts with Grant's over the top hotheadedness.
Treason sucks you in as an audience, trapped in a room with a deranged leader who's terrifying in how unpredictable he is. It's a boiler room dark comedy. What I will say is there were times where you feel you should laugh at Grant's ridiculous demands of his family but you feel so much sympathy for the mother and daughter, that you desperately want them to escape him.
In other words, good show.