Golden Shards Productions takes you up to the fourth highest peak in the world, Mount Lhotse, in their production of 8000M playing this weekend only. Directed by San Diego native Alice Cash, this ensemble brings the Himalaya’s to San Diego MOXIE stage through Sunday, November 28th.
Mount Lhotse, located next to Mount Everest, is the summit the group in this play trains for in this specific journey, and they find that the mountain challenges more than just their physical abilities, but also their relationships and priorities.
This show requires the excellent ensemble to deftly move between scenes, logistics, accents, and characters to tell this story and this cast delivers. All while maneuvering an almost bare stage with climbing gear and ropes, and making the mountain climbing and ascent feel real and consequential.
Ellie MacPherson is excellent as the driven, if reserved ice climber Erica, while Joseph Lyle Dunn is a delightfully entertaining biscuit (aka: cookie) company executive with big dreams about a marketing campaign revolving around eating a cookie at the summit.
Nick Chris entertains as the team doctor who is climbing to raise money for a drugs charity while smoking joints and passing out valium. Jak Watson brings energy and focus as the experienced leader who tries to keep this team of 5 climbers, 2 of which have never climbed before, moving and motivated.
Ashley Underwood brings a softness to this group of daredevils as the writer and poet who can’t seem to find the words, but also rejects the team’s thoughtful answers to her questions. Ryan Feyk is quietly compelling as the climber who dreamed of this his whole life, but finds the experience isn’t quite what he imagined.
Cash directs it well, keeping everything moving so the building tension of this ascent never lags. The use of ropes keeps the mountaineering aspect front and center, while also using them creatively as tents , bridges, rooms, and beds.
Some people have hobbies like reading books while cozy on the couch, and other people have hobbies like climbing a mountain in Himalayas. Having successfully climbed one mountain in my life (Mount Whitney) and learned firsthand how badly altitude sickness can feel, I can’t say I understand the drive to go higher, but this show is an intriguing glimpse at the personal drive and cost to those who pursue the chance to touch the sky.
8000M by Golden Shard Productions is at Moxie Theatre through Sunday, November 18th. For ticket and show time information go www.goldenshards.com