Writer: John Doble
Director: Alberto Bonilla
“A poet and her principles collide with a policeman’s sense of justice when Mac, whose life is books and ideas, falls in love with Jab, a detective enraged at a killer’s cold indifference.” (FringeNYC)
What is it about?
To Protect the Poets is a play about the ethical dilemma of whether we are ever justified to take justice into our own hands. The question is explored through the nascent love story of a detective and an English teacher, a modern-day rendition of Romeo and Juliet, in which their difference is not their family names, but their deeply held convictions.
What did I like about it?
The play manages to explore a painful, heart-wrenching topic (violent rape and homicide), followed by long moral questioning (Elizabeth Alice Murray as Mac has long monologues about her beliefs), and all this heaviness was balanced wit laughter and moments of true emotion.
Two of my favorite moments in the play were when Mac and Jab (played by John Isgro) are flirting and twice Mac comes on stage having fixed her hair, or changed her shirt to be more attractive—it was funny to watch because we have all been in that awkward and giddy situation, and the actors played it beautifully—I bought that they were uncomfortable, excited, and falling in love.
The other favorite moment is when Mac’s students re-enact a balcony scene from Romeo and Juliet: witty, fresh, and with great one-liners, the scenes with her students lit the mood and gave the audience a much-needed chuckle.
Why might you enjoy seeing it?
If you enjoy grappling with moral dilemmas, and if you want to see a modern rendition of Romeo and Juliet—if they’d been in their forties and their differences had been ideological—then To Protect the Poets may just be what you’re looking for.
Full disclosure: the play is directed by my Film & TV instructor at Stella Adler, nominated NY’s best on-camera technique teacher, Alberto Bonilla.