Powerful performances in Gamm’s ‘Ironbound’

Theatre Review by Don Fowler


Darja (Donnla Hughes) sits on a bench at a bus stop in New Jersey, crying for a better life after immigrating from Poland and running from three failed marriages.

We meet Tommy, (Steve Kidd) husband #3, as he shouts profanities at her, ordering her to “Get in the car!”

Darja is down on her luck. The American Dream isn’t what she expected as she struggles through bad relationships, low paying, bottom level jobs and the realization that money, not love, is what she needs to survive.

Playwright Martyna Majok has structured the play over 22 years in the tough life of a woman struggling to survive in world where she is overlooked, abused and finding herself at a point in her life where she knows not where to turn.

Pay attention to the shifts in time as Darja tries to deal with Tommy and Maks, (Gunnar Manchester), her first husband, who has brought her to America where he hopes to pursue a career in music.

The one-act play is filled with allegories and metaphors, as the author makes statements on the difficulties of immigrants, especially women, in an uncaring world. The fact that the play opens at the same time as Russia invades Ukraine is an eerie coincidence.

Darja’s world is interrupted by a stranger who offers temporary help, which she rejects because it offers no long-range solution. Talk about metaphors!

Rodney Witherspoon II has a pivotal role as Vic, giving a perfect performance filled with both joy and poignancy.

Poignancy is the word. In spite of her rashness and anger, you will care deeply for Darja and the problems of the underserved people struggling to survive.

Kidd makes Tommy a fascinating character. He cares, but he doesn’t know what to do. Manchester has the role of the Polish immigrant dreamer down Pat. He knows what he wants to do. Hughes wears her insecurities on her sleeve as she faces the harsh realities of life.

Rachel Walsh directs the play up close and personal, putting the characters right in front of a bleak gray wall and forcing the audience to feel their pain.

“Ironbound” is a play that will stay with you long after the lights go out.  It is at Warwick’s Gamm Theatre through April 10. Call 723-4266.


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