Aired on KSDS-FM on 3/9/18
RUN DATES: 2/21/18 – 3/25/18
VENUE: North Coast Repertory Theatre
Consider the age-old question of Fate vs. Free Will. Are we just ships that pass in the night, or are we all on a predetermined collision course?
Reflecting the sly sensibility of his latest work, Steven Dietz called his play “This Random World,” subtitling it “The Myth of Serendipity.”
In his imaginative, inventive universe, there are no accidents – even though the protagonists may not recognize the coincidences. The audience has the advantage of seeing all, feeling omniscient, and getting the last laugh. Or sigh.
In a series of duologues, people intentionally interact or arbitrarily ricochet off each other. Sometimes they later perceive the synchrony; sometimes not.
But one thing is certain. Whether the situation is funny or tragic, poignant or seemingly pointless, there’s something just about everyone can relate to in this play, which is about missed connections, the road not taken, and choices made or regretted.
It could be a long-lamented high school love, or a brutal breakup; sibling antagonism or alienation; parent-child communication or disconnection; lack of insight or introspection. Whatever it is, we’ve all been there.
While some of the coincidences are a tad precious, the characters and interactions are by turns hilariously or painfully real.
In the West coast premiere at North Coast Repertory Theatre, director David Ellenstein keeps his staging simple and his excellent cast grounded and believable.
With an outstanding use of sound and light, and a beautiful, Asian-inspired set of vertical wood rectangles, the action moves seamlessly from an American apartment to a greasy spoon, from Nepal to Kyoto, all in the course of a contemporary 6-month time period.
We’re intrigued enough to go along with these quirky characters: worrywarts and losers; helpmates and self-saboteurs; those who are unsatisfied or secretive or inarticulate.
In some way, like these folks, we’re all thinking about who we are and what we want from life – and even from death.
Not every issue is resolved, or thematic strand tied up, but true to its title, the play’s final line may apply to the audience response to the unsettled ending: “I wonder what else I’ve missed!”
©2018 PAT LAUNER, San Diego Theater Reviews