Peerless, a smart and funny play by Jiehae Park, is a fast paced dark comedy about twin sisters scheming to gain admission to a prestigious college (known as The College) through whatever means necessary. The show, which is performed in 90 minutes with no intermission, takes its inspiration from Macbeth which makes itself known in the names of the characters.
It may seem odd, to have a comedic take on Macbeth, one of Shakespeare's most well known tragedies, but Park's play does it brilliantly. Keeping the driving theme of ambition, and the relationship between those who stand to gain from the ambitious actions and those who drive them. But thankfully the run time of Peerless is half the length of its inspiration and it feels refreshing and modern as the story is moved into a modern day high school, filled fast paced and entertaining dialogue.
The twins at the center of the L and M are played by real life sisters Francesca and Isabella Dawis. Their familiarity with each other comes across to the audience, as they finish each other's sentences and masterfully delivery the extremely fast paced dialogue that they share. Their characters journeys throughout the play makes you feel for them, laugh at some of the situations they find themselves in, and also be slightly frightened of their driving ambition.
M and L both have worked for years to achieve their goal of getting into the college, which is known to take one affirmative action student each year. L even stayed back one year in order to space out their applications in order to ensure both admissions. The devious scheming commences when D (a student who recently discovered they are 1/16th Native American) gains admission instead of M. But Dirty Girl, a silent loner type speaks up to pass on a cryptic message of future admissions.
This set up wonderfully mirrors Macbeth with M, L and D taking the roles of Macbeth, Lady Macbeth and Duncan while Dirty Girl plays the role of the witches. But the play evolves from what we know as the characters prove to be sympathetic and endearing and the show takes twists that I did not see coming.While M and L are clearly at the center of the story, the support characters round out the story filling in the twin's world. The supporting cast comprising of Neal Beckman as D, Meredith Casey as Dirty Girl and Kenyai O'Neal as BF bring some lightness into the overwhelming intensity of M and L leading to a balanced show that is a delight to watch.
Peerless, being produced by Theater Mu is playing at the Gremlin theater through February 16th. It is a perfect show for anyone who is a fan of Shakespeare's Macbeth, high school comedies, comedic dance breaks or the Gilmore Girls. Click here for more information about the show and how to get tickets.
*Photos by Rich Ryan