"Succession" - A Stagnant One for Hattiloo Theatre

Firstly, let's acknowledge the actors who, amidst a muddled script, delivered moments of genuine strength. Their commitment was evident, even as the narrative struggled to find its footing.


Walking into Hattiloo Theatre for their latest production, "Succession," I was hopeful. Yet, as the curtain fell, I found myself reflecting on what could have been a powerful exploration of intergenerational collaboration but instead faltered in execution.

In This AUDicle:

  • Actor Strength Amidst Script Challenges
  • Script and Direction
  • Character Portrayals and Performances
  • Technical Execution
  • Troublesome Themes and Comparisons
  • Closing Thoughts and Missed Opportunities
  • Final Takeaway

Firstly, let's acknowledge the actors who, amidst a muddled script, delivered moments of genuine strength and talent. Their commitment was evident, even as the narrative struggled to find its footing. It's clear that the issues with "Succession" didn't stem from a lack of talent on stage but rather from the foundational elements of the production itself.

The script, lacking clarity, made it challenging to follow the storyline's progression. One could argue that seeing the production in preview grants a certain leniency towards these criticisms. However, the absence of creative direction and effective dramaturgy was too glaring to overlook, despite this grace.

Rumored to have originated from New York, "Succession" seemed to grapple with outdated notions of support and collaboration across generations, which, rather than resonating, felt disconnected from the contemporary climate. The decision to pivot the protagonist into an antagonist midway only muddled the message further.

Regrettably, Hattiloo's practice of not showcasing names made it impossible to credit the hardworking individuals behind the performances. One lead actor's portrayal of a Yale graduate, however, did stand out—not for its authenticity but for its lack of believability and cohesion, detracting from the production's overall impact.

Technically, the production also struggled. The chosen transitional music disrupted rather than enhanced the atmosphere, leaving audiences mentally and physically disoriented and confused about the setting's era. Moreover, the set design, while starting with promise, felt unfinished and unfocused.

Perhaps the most concerning elements were the perpetuated tropes of womanizing and homophobia, alongside the insinuation that career advancement hinged on unethical relationships—a narrative choice that not only feels antiquated but also dangerously misleading.

Comparatively, having recently witnessed the brilliance of "Confederates" under Erma Elzy's direction, "Succession" felt like a missed opportunity to delve into meaningful discourse. Instead, it veered into subversion, echoing undertones of white supremacy rather than challenging or innovating upon them.

Choosing to leave before the conclusion, a decision not made lightly, reflected my overall disappointment. The production, at nearly three hours long, seemed to lose sight of its titular theme, opting instead for a portrayal that many may forgive but few will likely find transformative.

In closing, while the actors did commendably with the material provided, "Succession" underscores a crucial reminder: the importance of coherent, insightful, and responsive storytelling in theatre. Here's hoping future productions at Hattiloo and beyond will harness the full potential of their narratives and the talents of those who bring them to life.

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