A SMALL FIRE (PTC): 60-second review

a small fire review image

Oge Agulé and Bebe Neuwirth in A SMALL FIRE. Photo by Mark Garvin.

Philadelphia Theatre Company’s elegant production of A Small Fire showcases strong performance. Curtains up and we meet Emily (Bebe Neuwirth), a gruff, sharp contractor. She is in control of her business and her home life, which suits her husband, John (John Dossett), just fine, but drives her daughter (Sarah Gliko) crazy. As her daughter’s wedding approaches, Emily begins to lose her senses: first smell, then taste, and so on… Emily descends into a world of darkness and must rely on her family.

Joanie Schultz’s direction centers on masterful and delicate performances by Neuwirth and Dossett. The play takes a while to build steam but leads to a stunning climax and denouement. Adam Bock’s structure leaves many scenes that feel like they end prematurely. For some, this adds a delightful bit of tension, like an unresolved chord progression. Other times, we miss a potentially juicy moment. The production’s 90 minutes (no intermission) is a brisk, but satisfying journey.

[Philadelphia Theatre Company at the Suzanne Roberts Theatre, 480 S. Broad Street] October 18–November 10, 2019; philadelphiatheatrecompany.org

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About the author

Joshua Herren

Josh Herren is a writer and third-grade teacher living in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Josh has a B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania, where he graduated summa cum laude in history (American concentration) and art history, with a minor in gender, sexuality, and women’s studies. His thesis "Furious Acts: AIDS and the Art(s) of Activism, 1985–1993" won the Rose Award for Outstanding Thesis. Josh is passionate about education, theater, and convincing others that Philadelphia is the greatest city on earth.