Not all shows this weekend feature Santa or Jesus. Nimbus Theatre offers a stark alternative to the jolly consumerism of the season.
Maxim Gorky’s “The Lower Depths” takes place in a basement filled with people struggling. In Nimbus’ adaptation, they struggle against the backdrop of the Great Depression.
Reviewers found this to be a surprisingly timely and satisfyingly strong ensemble production.
Like other successful companies, Nimbus Theatre stands out via certain strengths, and their biggest strength may be best described as star power. In recent years, they’ve been able to recruit some of the most talented casts and crews available. That’s let them produce shows that are consistently higher in quality than you’d expect in a small venue, and “The Lower Depths” is not the exception. It rivals the work being done at the city’s biggest venues, but without their overhead driving its ticket prices up. In essence, it is Guthrie quality theatre[sic] at a Bryant Lake Bowl price.
Love, abuse, camaraderie, death, and celebration all have their place here in the lower depths. One of the residents happily exclaims that all you need is “food, drink, music, and friends,” but there’s a desperation hiding beneath the surface of the frivolity of drinking and the daily routines of shopping and sweeping… This is truly an ensemble piece, and Nimbus has assembled a really nice ensemble of 14 actors. All of them have their moment to shine, particularly in the second act when plot gives way to a series of monologues about life, truth, and the human condition, and they all use it well.
“The Lower Depths” is a bold choice, as Gorky’s script weaves its characters together in a way that illustrates the different sides of poverty with a degree of nuance that many audiences are unused to, particularly during a season of straightforward Christmas morality. But for those willing to step outside of the holiday bubble, the Nimbus’s artful production may lead you to look at economic inequalities in a new way that is both critical and compassionate – a fairly holiday-friendly result after all.
“The Lower Depths” runs at Nimbus Theatre through Dec. 22.
Have you seen it? What’s your review?