Fringe Festival review: When Last We Flew

jon-michael-reese-in-when-last-we-flewWhen Last We Flew
****
If hope is the thing with feathers, as Dickinson wrote, then When Last We Flew is undeniably fledgling. Harrison David Rivers's ambitious drama vibrates with potential; the spirit of the piece, which owes an overarching debt to Tony Kushner's Angels in America (a revival of which approaches at the Signature), is imaginative and humane. Directed by Colette Robert, the young cast does generally excellent work: Jon-Michael Reese as a black Kansan teenager obsessed with Kushner's epic, Christopher Larkin as his hyperverbal gay friend, Rory Lipede as a high-school girl discovering the satisfactions of racial activism. The play still seems to be finding its balance: Among other problems, it is book-ended with purple portent—a miscast Allison Mackie struggles to deliver her self-consciously poetical speeches—and would benefit from fewer overt hyperlinks to Angels. But while not all of the writing quite flies, Rivers's thoughtful and sensitive play is well worth catching at the Fringe before it—hopefully—gets a rewrite and a chance to spread its wings in wider skies.—Adam Feldman