Like any good thriller, The Commune immediately introduces tension and a hook. Stone, who now calls himself Joe after running away from the hippie commune is back for Brook’s funeral, his mother. No one will tell him how she died. Was it illness? Suicide? Murder…? His father River, and community leader Moon seem hesitant to have him back to their sect that shuns all outsiders, while city-girl Violet, Joe’s partner, is eager that everyone get along.
The cast of five (the more sinister childhood friend of Stone is introduced halfway through the play) come in and out of River’s kitchen providing just enough exposition for the audience to understand what is at stake. An Amish-like religious sect that is outside the law, rejects technology and even electricity and demands that members do anything it takes to support their cause. Joe fled the stifling clutches of the cult when he was eighteen, and years later is still marveled by city life.
Just before you start wondering where the plot is headed, an unexpected and explosive encounter unfolds, hurtling the plot along, managing to tie loose ends together and reach a definite if unexpected conclusion in just an hour of stage time.
If I were to have one reservation, is that the brief playtime means sacrificing some character development time. The audience must suspend some disbelief when it comes to buying into Joe and Violet’s motivations to accept the circumstances they find themselves in, but that is a minor point of what is certainly a director’s decision to focus on what is needed to keep it all moving at the right pace.
The Commune will definitely appeal to those who like action mysteries, as opposed to the more deliberate psychological thrillers.
Christian G. is an international man of mystery; lover of books, cats and the performing arts; moonlighting as a finance professional by day.