'Describe the Night': New play at the Wilma Theater challenges audience to tell truth from lies

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- It's called Describe the Night and it is an epic saga written by Rajiv Joseph, exploring Vladimir Putin's rise to power.

"It's about the Soviet Union from 1920," says artistic director, Blanka Zizka, "looking at a span of 90 years."

It tells the complex story through the experiences of eight people, and the play asks one basic question.

"What is truth? What is a lie, and how ambiguous it is to find the truth?" Zizka says.

Brett Ashley Robinson plays a Russian reporter covering the 2010 crash of the Polish president's plane in Russia, killing all 96 people on board.

"It was carrying the President, the Vice President, the first lady of Poland," Robinson explains, "everyone else who goes to report on that day too is arrested."

Robinson's character is able to escape and hide.

Campbell O'Hare plays a singer in Germany trying to escape to West Berlin 9 months before the fall of the wall.

"The scene opens with a knock at our door and there's a KGB agent there to detain her," O'Hare says.

The set was built Coliseum-style with a forest over an underground room in Moscow.

"We're surrounded by walls and walls of boxes," Robinson says.

"All the things that have been edited out of newspapers, out of people's lives, live in there," Zizka explains.

"You're like wow, like history can be manipulated, story can be manipulated in so many ways," Robinson says.

The play weaves together historical figures with events in the past both real and imagined.

"You never quite know what's true and what is a dream and what's a myth on this show," O'Hare says.

"This play will ask you to be curious and to ask you about what stories you tell yourself," Robinson says.

"And the narration, how it can be constantly changed depending on who is telling the story," Zizka adds.

The Wilma Theater: Describe the Night I Tickets

January 28, 2020 - February 16, 2020

265 S Broad St, Philadelphia, PA 19107
Copyright © 2021 WPVI-TV. All Rights Reserved.