Manahatta on O! review

Manahatta (2018) is one of two shows streaming on OSF’s O! platform this spring. Pictured: Steven Flores and Tanis Parenteau. Photo by Jenny Graham.

While the return to normalcy and live stage shows are near, people are still itching to immerse themselves in live theatre. Luckily, Southern Oregon’s own Oregon Shakespeare Festival has introduced their streaming service, appropriately titled O!. O! offers a variety of theatre-related content for any level of thespian fan, from OSF originals to interactive discussions and conversations, and even documentaries and behind-the-scenes footage on various shows premiered at OSF.

O! also includes several previously recorded plays that are being rereleased onto the platform for a limited time; the plays themselves stream for a few weeks, then are cycled out for different ones. In this cycle, OSF is streaming their 2018 productions of Manahatta, which is now streaming through April 24, and Snow in Midsummer, streaming from May 3 to May 29. 

Manahatta tells two stories throughout the play: first, of Jane Snake, a Lenape woman who takes a job at a Wall Street investment firm and quickly rises to the top. Meanwhile, her mother, Bobbie, is faced with losing her Oklahoma home after the death of her husband. Second, a story of the Delaware Lenape people, who face the arrival of Dutch settlers in the 17th century on present-day Manhattan Island, then known as Manahatta. 

The play moves in an incredibly fluid way, mirroring the modern-day conflicts of the stock market with how the Lenape were treated when the Dutch arrived. The Lenape people work trade with the settlers while Bobbie tries to jump through the hoops of loans and mortgages in the modern-day. The actors did a tremendous job moving between characters and timelines, and soon it felt like they were molding into each other, unsure whether it was the past or present since it all felt so familiar. While the filmed production may be a few years old, there is a lot of truth in its words and conflicts.

Not only was the play incredibly fluid and impactful, but it also had a lot of great humor. The actors often delivered a line that made the audience laugh, bringing them closer to the characters in the show. 

The play carried symbols of hope, home, and the power of family and showed a side of history that the audience might not learn about in school.

All of the actors played two roles within the play, one of their 17th-century characters and one of their 21st-century counterparts. Tanis Parenteau played Jane and Le-le-wa’-you, Rainbow Dickerson played Debra and Toosh-ki-pa-kwis-i, Sheila Tousye played Bobbie and Mother, and Steven Flores played Luke and Se-ket-tu-may-qua. Also starring was Jeffrey King as Dick Flud and Peter Minuit, Danforth Comins as Joe and Jakob, and David Kelly as Michael and Jonas Michaelius. Laurie Woolery directed the 2018 production, and Mary Kathryn Nagle wrote the original play.

Manahatta and Snow in Midsummer can be streamed on the Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s streaming service O!. $15 for either show or $25 for both shows. 

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