by Jim Henry
Directed by Scott C. Embler
with Leslie Hendrix and Michael Rupert
Theatre Row
Official Website

Reviewed by David Spencer

There’s a nice little psychological thriller on Theatre Row in 7th Monarch by Jim Henry. It starts with government investigator Raina Briar (Leslie Hendrix) checking out what may be fraudulent cashing of social security checks issued to the parents of twenty-something Indiana resident Miriam Hemmerick (Gretchen Hall). Miriam is a sweet young woman but drops into disassociative states easily, and lives her life in a series of strict rituals that are her sole comfort and evidence a clear and profound manifestation of Asperger’s syndrome. The questions are whether or not this renders her clinically irresponsible…and what she’s responsible for. All that’s known for sure at the top is that Miriam’s parents have been missing for a long while…

                        Other characters are a young, sincere district attorney (Matthew Humphries), his more political boss (Michael Rupert) and a grizzled veteran cop (Michael Cullen). Straight down the line, it’s a Broadway octane cast (including a few Broadway veterans, but what I’m really talking about here is the degree of solidity, assurance and nuance to be found in the performances, all of which are sharply etched and memorable.) The play is very well rendered by its design team, and directed to match by Scott C. Embler. 7th Monarch is the kind of drama I like to call a “paperback play.” It may have deeper thematic purpose, but mostly it’s just a ripping good story, and it keeps you “turning the pages” in anticipation. The phrase “surprise sleeper” couldn’t be applied more appropriately.

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