Aurora Theatre's US Premiere of "Temple": Review

By Rhonda Shrader, Dog Mom's Dish, April 22nd, 2017

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What exactly do they hope to achieve?

This is a salient question in the play, and even more so directly outside the walls of the Aurora.  Both UC Berkeleyand the City of Berkeley are struggling mightily with the question of how to empower free speech without enabling violence.

Steve Waters' Temple is fiction based on the actual events of Occupy London in 2011, taking us behind the scenes and into the minds of those charged with the mission of protecting institutions. Institutions such as the iconic St. Paul’s Cathedral and, mere footsteps away, the London Stock Exchange as well as Goldman Sachs. This aerial photo perfectly sets the scene:

Temple is a densely worded play with rich language and heaps of SAT words like antediluvian. Thankfully, the cast is more than up to the task.  Paul Whitworth brings equal parts gravitas and befuddlement to the Dean of St. Paul's, as he confronts the Twitter-is-news realities of his rocked world. His personal assistant Lizzie has a delightful ditziness belying a wisdom that’s well worth a listen.  Played to perfection by Sylvia Burboeck in her Aurora debut, I hope we see more of her! Ditto for Leontyne Mbele-Mbong, last seen at the Aurora in the magnificent Breakfast With Mugabe.  In Temple, Mbele-Mbong’s City Lawyer slices through the stuffiness like a hot knife through butter.  She’s full-on empowered execution…fabulous.

Who will love this play? Anyone who has ever been frustrated by the inherent conflict between ideals vs. reality. Temple is a must see for locals concerned  with balancing the rights of free speech with institutional integrity and stewardship of public property, all while maintaining the safety of students, residents and others who may not have our community's best interests in mind.

Kudos to Tom Ross (who also directed) for bringing Templefrom the London stage for its US premiere. Temple simply could not be more relevant anywhere, right now. Tickets and more information here.

Photo credit: David Allen

Top: The Dean (c. Paul Whitworth), his PA (c.l. Sylvia Burboeck), The Virger, The Bishop of London, and The Canon Chancellor (l-r, Sharon Lockwood, J. Michael Flynn, Mike Ryan) prepare for service in Aurora Theatre Company’s U.S. Premiere of Temple.

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