Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Curve of Departure  —Studio Theater

In Studio Theatre’s brilliant offering of the season—Curve of Departure —Rachel Bonds  has like a clever spider weaving a perfect web created a play that is complex, fragile and beautiful for its finely threaded connections of human emotions.

There are five characters.

The one character that the play revolves about is never seen.  Cyrus. He is the one for whom there is this family gathering for his funeral, in a motel in  Sante Fe, New Mexico (some know it as “The Land of Enchantment”).  

His father Rudy (Peter Van Wagner) is now in and out of dementia, and on the constant verge of attacks of incontinence.  This grand patriarch wanders between confusion and distraction, bitterness and wisdom.  He  enjoys the silly in life like soap operas while focusing on his end of life decision.  

 Linda (Ora Jones) is the ex-wife. The good woman—she cares for her ex-father-in-law enough to be planning to  give up her day job as what else—a teacher.

Her son Felix(Justin Weaks) arrives with his lover Jackson (Sebastian Arboleda).  The son still angry at his father, wants to cut the funeral events to the minimum to get back to LA.  Jackson is distracted by messages on his phone. 

There is clearly a mystery here, one that causes pain.   Linda had opened the play while ironing Rudy’s pants, and as it follows,  Linda  will find what needs to be to iron out the conflicts of the son she loves and his lover.

 It’s very simple: There are no bad people in the play, but these four characters are dealing with the legacies of bad people who exist in their world outside of this time and place which brings them together. 

How this all works in a brief  85 minutes play  that covers the time span of an evening and an early morning sunrise— is  the beauty of this careful  crafted piece.  Using the shared spaces of a hotel room— beds and bathroom—with outside   hallway for secret phone calls, and  the patio for a group gathering before the funeral—the four characters navigate to have separate snippets of conversation that uncover secrets,  to share experiences, to come to understandings.

No play is expected to conform to equal employment guidelines for its characters.  The diversity of age, race, sex and sexual choices, add to this story that these circumstances are possible across all demographic lines.   There is nothing  so moralistic that turns these outer characteristics  into a sermon. 

Instead the play concentrates on what we know to be the good that is shared as humans, that is,  Linda’s empathy, Felix’s love for Jackson, Jackson’s commitment to family and a walloping dose of Rudy’s wisdom to top it off.