'The Rant' challenges audiences in ripped-from-headlines production

'The Rant' challenges audiences in ripped-from-headlines production

Kym Gomes (Denise Reeves), Tony Estrella (Alexander Stern) in "The Rant" now at Gamm Theatre.

It starts with a young black man shot dead by a police officer.

The story is recounted by his mother, Denise Reeves (Kym Gomes), in an interrogation room, sitting under a single light. Her son was murdered by a white cop who believes he rules the street.

When the mother finishes, only her story is heard, and it’s easy to believe every word she said.

And that’s the set-up for “The Rant,” the newest offering at Pawtucket’s Gamm Theatre. Playwright Andrew Case’s play is about the truth. Pursuit of the truth, manipulation of the truth, using the truth for one’s own purposes.

“The Rant” is one of those ripped-from-the-headlines shows – just 90 minutes long, a half-hour longer than most of the crime and legal dramas to which we’ve become accustomed on television

As the play unfolds, we meet Lila (Nikki Massoud), the prosecutor of Iranian heritage who grew up watching the bullies, and longed for a true villain, “someone worth the effort to vanquish.”

She’s found him in Sergeant Clarke, the cop Denise Reeves has accused of murder.

Because Clarke retires from the PD shortly after the incident, Lila’s unable to touch him. Her jurisdiction is over active police officers only.
So she leaks Reeves’ statements to a reporter, Alex (Tony Estrella), who publishes them.

All this while, the only truth belongs to the mother of the victim.

Until we meet Officer Simmons (Amos Hamrick), Sergeant Clarke’s driver, who was also on the scene. The story he tells is convincing, but Lila doesn’t believe him. To her, the truth exists in and with the mother.

“The Rant” is very tightly directed by Tyler Dobrowsky. Just four players, mostly delivering monologues, with dialogue in spots to drive the story along. Patrick Lynch’s set is minimalistic – a steel desk and chair, a table and chair. The walls of the entire theater are plastered with what appear to be redacted case files.

Every performance is powerful, haunting and moving in its own way. A special nod to Gomes for delivering a heartbreakingly convincing performance, especially in her monologue at the top of the show.

“The Rant” is a wonderful bit of theater, one that will entertain, but also make you think. If you don’t walk out of the theater wondering what the truth of it all is, walk back in and sort it out.

(The Gamm Theatre in Pawtucket presents “The Rant” through December 13. For complete details and information, call 401.723.4266 or visit www.gammtheatre.org.)