Looking past the sensationalized headlines after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, what is left of the lives of the victims? Nigel Master’s adapted version of Maxim Gorki’s “The Lower Depths” is a theatrical revelation that focuses on this very issue of a modern day tragedy. “The heartbreaking plight of Katrina victims and our government’s inadequate response made immediate parallels in my mind between the hurricane survivors and Gorki’s characters,” Master said. “Both struggle to realize their humanity in an antagonistic world.”

The play features an amalgam of diverse characters forced together in a half-house by Katrina’s devastating impact, revealing the essence of human desperation in the most natural and unequivocal way. The multifarious cast incorporates fresh, new talent and experienced veterans to provide you with the most unadulterated view of how a truly catastrophic situation can have a profound affect on the dynamics of human nature. At the center of the plot is a love triangle between a young man and two sisters, demonstrating the perplexity and the evident hopelessness that has evaded their lives. A traveling old man provides the wisdom, faith and sensitivity often lacking in many of the reckless, demoralized characters. A mix of both comic and moving monologues provides an abstract view into the fears, insecurities and broken pasts of the characters which tie them together.

A few quick seating changes keep the audience on their toes, giving them a full view of the incredibly realistic, garbage- strewn ramshackle of a home ravaged by nature. The ruined scenery parallels the inner destruction and struggles of each of the characters, allowing the audience to fully immerse themselves in the emotional rapture of the dramatic performance.

Master’s adaptation highlights a relatively current, sometimes seemingly forgotten, natural disaster. It combines a setting that today’s viewers can relate to and an energetic cast whose performance evokes a variety of emotions. “The Lower Depths” forces viewers to confront the emotional and psychological aftermath of post-Katrina New Orleans, leaving you with a renewed compassion and understanding of the impact of one of the greatest tragedies in American history.

“The Lower Depths” will continue to run from Oct. 25-28 at Todd Union. Tickets cost $6 and are available at the Common Market, at the door, and online.

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