MTC’s latest is Brilliant Mind, a co-production with Storykrapht, a partnership between multi-talented actress and writer Denmo Ibrahim and Marti Wigder Grimminck to reimagine theater in the digital realm. To do so, the production melds both live and pre-filmed scenes, allowing for a choose-your-own-adventure-style thread in which viewers can take different paths before winding up at the same conclusion.
The story itself focuses on adult siblings Dina and Yusef who learn of their estranged father’s death and must bury a man they never knew. The play “takes a hard look at generational trauma, the struggle between self and family, and the weight of carrying a legacy. It’s an excavation of the politics of gender in immigrant communities and the challenges ever present between tradition and culture. This is a story of hope, about what gets lost in translation, and what happens when we dare to love unconditionally,” according to MTC.
Directed by Kate Bergstrom, the performances are nicely nuanced and natural, exuding the easy camaraderie and comfortable annoyance of family, according to the San Francisco Chronicle, which concluded that the play “is digital theater that actually uses technology in a new way. Watching an online show on two devices at the same time feels not just natural but like a relief.”
“Digital gadgetry actually does enhance storytelling in inventive ways that ought to continue and expand once theater fully reopens,” the Chronicle concludes.
Marin Independent Journal theater critic Sam Hurwitt says that the play’s myriad threads are “all woven together in a compelling package with user-friendly digital and interactive design by Grimminck.” “By the end of the show’s 85 minutes, I was left with a lingering longing almost akin to those of the siblings, feeling there was so much more that needed to be said now that it was too late,” he adds.