TR Robertson …At times people live lives that are so near yet so far away when it comes to relationships, job selections, family decisions, and future direction choices. The latest play at North Coast Repertory Theatre in Solana Beach is the West Coast Premiere of “This Random World”, by Steven Dietz, a quick 90 minute trip with seven individuals, who are tremendously interconnected, yet all live parallel lives and travel paths that never seem to match up. Dietz play is referred to as a “comedy of missed connections”. This delightful comedy is a fast paced tale about the uniqueness of people, people taking a chance with some success and some failures and people who live lives that just seem to miss the opportunities around them.
Playwright Dietz is both a playwright and director having written over 30 plays. He is 8th on the Top 10 List of the most produced
playwrights in America. His plays range from political to comedic plays. Dietz is the recipient of the PEN U.S.A. Award in Drama, a 2 time Kennedy Center Fund for New American Plays Award, awarded the Edgar Allen Poe Award for Best Mystery and the Steinberg New Play Award Citation. Along with writing, he currently teaches workshops and master classes on play writing.
The play begins with Beth Ward, who is concerned that her mother, Scottie, is living an isolated life with assistance of a caregiver, not doing anything constructive. Beth feels her mother needs assistance in living a fuller life, Beth is also preoccupied with death. She is trying to get her brother, Tim, involved in this issue, and she is trying to get Tim to deal with his loss of a job and a girlfriend. She has written her own obituary and wants Tim to do the same. Beth is also off to Nepal for the adventure of a lifetime and wanting to do something out of the ordinary. Tim could care less about either situation. Unknown to them, their mother and her caregiver have been traveling around the world for years. Scottie is preparing to travel to Japan and wants to leave an offering in Kyoto at a specific Shinto shrine. As the scenes quickly change we run into Claire who is being “dumped” by boyfriend Gary. Claire is the former girlfriend of Tim. In another scene we see Scottie, recently returning from Iceland, meeting with her aide Bernadette about her upcoming trip. Bernie wants Scottie to take her sister Rhonda with her instead. Next up is Tim in a mortuary, running into the quirky Rhonda, as he tries to deal with a situation he has got himself into, posting on the mortuary web site his death and not being able to delete the post. Rhonda is little help. Claire finds out Tim is dead and she laments losing him. On to Nepal and Beth dealing with a problem she has with a missed bus, sharing the problem with Gary, Claire’s old flame, who has decided his life needs a new experience. Back to the airport as Rhonda and Scottie are preparing to leave for Japan, but this will change as well with only Rhonda off to Japan to carry out a task Scottie wants her to do. Back to a café with Claire and Tim, Claire both glad to see Tim and not glad to see Tim, she thinks he is an impersonator as Tim is “dead”. Back to a hospital ward where Bernie, Gary, Tim, Claire all seem to just miss each other as they deal with both tragic situations surrounding Scottie and Claire. On to Japan where Rhonda runs into Beth by the shrine, Beth dealing with a loss, but having no idea why Rhonda is there. The last stop is back to the mortuary where everyone is dealing with a loss of some kind and Scottie wondering, “I wonder what else I’ve missed”.
Photos by Aaron Rumley
This is fast paced play involving over 10 scenes and you do need a program to keep the players connected and the relationships straightened out. This talented cast flows through the play with ease and they have indeed been selected for the part they are playing because they “fit” that part perfectly. Playing Scottie is veteran actress Anne Gee Byrd, playing daughter Beth is North Coast Rep veteran Lisel Gorell-Getz and playing her brother Tim is Kevin Hafso Koppman, also a NC Rep veteran. Playing Claire and an audience favorite is Diana Irvine, making her NC Rep debut. Boyfriend Gary is Patrick Zeller, also making his NC Rep debut. Playing Bernadette is Critics Circle Award Winner Yolanda Franklin, also making a NC Rep debut. Her sister Rhonda is played by Ava Hill, another new performer to NC Rep. Joe Paulson enters in the final scene of the play as Tim Ward, another Tim Ward, you will have to see the play to get it.
NC Rep Artistic Director David Ellenstein returned to the director’s chair for this play and said in his Director’s Notes he enjoyed both the humor and thoughtfulness this play brought out. The Creative Team included Christopher M. Williams as Stage Manager, Marty Burnett as Resident Scenic Designer, Matthew Novotny as Lighting Designer, Melanie Chen Cole as Sound Designer, Elisa Benzoni as Costume Designer and Holly Gillard as Prop Designer. One unique feature was the changing scenes on the backdrop to fit the many scenes featured in the play, including a rain storm.
This play seems so simple, yet what is dealing with is so complicated. How much do we miss in life and have no idea why or what we are missing? How different would our lives be if we just made the slightest connection, made the other decision, took an opportunity that presented itself? These are the messages and what the audience leaves the theatre thinking about. “This Random World” is a do not miss production.
“This Random World” will be at North Coast Repertory Theatre through March 18th. Ticket prices range $46 – $53 with discounts available. Call 858-481-1055 or go to www.northcoastrep.org for tickets or more information. Next up at North Coast Rep is “How the Other Half Loves” by Sir Alan Ayckbourn beginning April 11th.