May 7, 2019
by Alexa Chipman
Tantalizing connections are just out of reach in the experimental ‘This Random World’ by Steven Dietz. A series of vignettes follow seven characters who have fleeting interactions, without realizing that there are actually reasons for them to build deeper relationships. The audience is in the know, but not the characters, creating a strange and mesmerizing dichotomy. For example, Tim and Gary have an awkward conversation about red licorice while waiting at the hospital, completely oblivious to the fact they are both ex-boyfriends of the same woman.
The concept is difficult to flow with at first, but quickly gains momentum through a series of realistic, clever, and beautifully human scenes. Gary (Ariel Zuckerman) and Claire (Paige Picard) are hilarious during their ferocious break-up scene, sniping at each other over a leftover quesadilla. Where the play falls apart is in the finale. Dietz does not seem to know how to end the story, and stuffs in one final joke before simply dropping his pen and walking off. Director Phoebe Moyer has accentuated the abrupt final scene, although her careful staging and direction throughout the rest of‘This Random World’ is quite polished.
Production design, such as Argo Thompson’s projections, Joe Winkler’s sound design, and lighting by April George is stunning. They combine their talents to create a lush motif of rainstorms, pulling the scattered story elements together into a cohesive presentation.
The remarkable ensemble gathers actors such as Anthony Martinez (Tim Ward), Heather Gordon (Beth Ward), andTrish DeBaun (Scottie Ward) who portray a family that has given up listening to each other. Living separate lives, they have superficial interactions, without following through with trust and intimacy.
Bernadette (Rosie Frater) and the eccentric Rhonda (Chandler Parrott-Thomas) are sisters who should be depending on each other after their mother has passed, but instead turn to strangers because that seems easier than confronting the truth.
This Random World’ uses tongue-in-cheek humor and everyday situations with relatable characters to consider difficult topics such as grief and the fickle nature of love. Although the ending is unsatisfactory, this dark comedy has a lot to like about it, from the strong ensemble to memorable stagecraft.
Presented by Left Edge Theatre through May 26, 2019
Fri/Sat at 8:00pm, Sun at 2:00pm
Tickets: $25 general, $40 VIP (reserved seating)
Photos by Katie Kelley
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