I had no idea what to expect from a play written by Jesse Eisenberg but I found The Revisionist to be a surprisingly funny and touching exploration of what it means to be a family.
Most of the show is played as a classic odd-couple two-hander, centring around young American writer David on a visit to his elderly second cousin, Maria, at her home in Poland, as he seeks a change of scenery to revise his uninspired second novel.
David is incredibly Eisenberg-esque, which Michael Mandalios has captured to perfection.
He is very much your entitled, self-serving and neurotic millennial, with few redeeming qualities.
I found David hard to suffer at times, but Mandalios brings just enough humility to the character that I found myself warming to him by the end.
David’s unlikability is certainly intentional and helps us to quickly warm to the complex and fascinating Maria, superbly portrayed by Kate Wilson.
It’s immediately clear to the audience that this widow and Holocaust survivor with a dark secret, is far more interesting than David yet he is dismissive of her for much of the play, focusing on, and constantly talking about, himself.
I must also mention there are a few appearances by alcoholic taxi driver, Zenon, who has become a somewhat surrogate son to Maria.
Zenon is played by a very funny Amer Thabet and his scenes were a highlight, despite the fact he speaks only in Polish (save a select few English curse words).
The Revisionist explores its themes with subtlety and complexity and there are some genuinely touching moments between David and Maria.
Impressively though, this is achieved without sentimentality or emotional manipulation.
Overall, it’s an expert piece of theatre, well worth the $35 ticket price.
I’m looking forward to seeing what Refraction come out with next!