Review: 'Lifted' Is Exhilarating from Start to Finish

by Joe Siegel

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Monday November 8, 2021

Victor Neto and Jim O'Brien in "Lifted"
Victor Neto and Jim O'Brien in "Lifted"  

Wilbury Theatre Group continues their new season with "Lifted," a haunting exploration of the depths of human despair and the fascination with flight.

Shawn (Victor Neto) is a young man troubled by the disappearance of his twin brother Max. He falls in love with Ria (Daraja Hinds), an enigmatic woman who was dating Max.

There have been a series of abductions in town, and everyone is on edge, especially Max's drug-addicted father, Wayne (Jim O'Brien), a man prone to violence.

The relationships between Shawn and Ria, and Shawn and his father, are tested by a series of shocking revelations, which results in tragedy.

"Lifted" was written by Charlie Thurston, a member of Trinity Repertory Company. Thurston's dialogue is sharp, and his characters unveil great psychological depth as they convey their inner struggles to each other. Under the taut direction by Josh Short, the performers do a brilliant job of bringing these characters to life.

Neto ("Dance Nation") is tremendously sympathetic as Shawn, who has to navigate his feelings for Ria, his father, and his missing brother.

Hinds ("Fun Home") displays a ferocious energy and powerful physicality as Ria unleashes her rage at the mistreatment she has suffered in her life.

Neto and Hinds have a palpable chemistry together as they evolve from friendship to love to sheer aggression. Based on their outstanding work here, these actors will be fascinating to see in future productions.

O'Brien ("You Got Older"), wearing tattered clothes, is electrifying as Wayne mourns his wife, fears for his son, and explains the devastation humans have wrought on the Earth.

Wayne considers birds the enemy of mankind, and outfits Shawn with a set of wings to fly after Max. It seems like a silly concept, but O'Brien sells his apocalyptic vision of the world.

O'Brien and Neto have some heartfelt moments together, as the two men try to heal a fractured relationship marked by deception and self-loathing.

Shawn, Ria, and Wayne all seek to fly away from their troubles, but discover getting off the ground will require more than just wings.

The production, which is performed on an outdoor stage at the WaterFire Arts Center, has imaginative lighting and sound design by Emily Hardy and Andy Russ, and projection designs by Max Ponticelli.

"Lifted," which runs a crisp 75 minutes with no intermission, is partly sad, partly humorous, and exhilarating from start to finish.


"Lifted" runs through November 20. Wilbury Theatre Group. Performed at WaterFire Arts Center, 475 Valley Street, Providence, RI. Tickets for all performances are Pay-What-You-Can. For more information, visit thewilburygroup.org.

Joe Siegel has written for a number of other GLBT publications, including In newsweekly and Options.