Audience Left Adrift In Wmc's 'Reckless'

March 04, 1992|By Tim Weinfeld | Tim Weinfeld,Contributing theater critic

The Western Maryland College Theatre has brought the work of an important new American playwright to Carroll County with its current production of Craig Lucas' "Reckless."

Lucas is well known for his dynamic screenplay for the recent film, "Longtime Companions." He is less well known for his highly original and individualized style of theater, represented by "Reckless," "Blue Window," "Missing Persons" and his most recent hit, "Prelude to a Kiss," which, after a long run on Broadway, is now being made into a motion picture. Lucas is adapting the play for film.

The play begins on Christmas Eve as Rachel and her husband are settling down for their long winter nap. Rachel (played by Jennifer Dean) exhibits childlike anticipation while the husband (played by R. Reid Wraase) is less involved and appears somewhat preoccupied. After afew minutes of character development, the husband announces he has taken out a contract on her life and she should get out the house immediately.

This ends the first scene, which is followed by 27 more that show us Rachel as she escapes the past and makes a new life for herself in a new world with new people. What ensues is a mixture of Moliere and the Marx Brothers -- a dark absurdist farce that defies categorization. If Lucas is nothing else, he is unique.

Rachel is taken in by a couple, Lloyd and Pooty Bophtelophti (Steve Zumbrun and Laura Tull) who make her a part of their family. Pooty may or may not be a deaf paraplegic.

From this point on, Rachel's life becomes a surrealistic montage of events that finally render her incapable of doing anything but join the homeless in the gutter.

Some of those who contribute to her demise are her erratic boss (Todd Robinson) and acaustic co-worker (R.J. Measday), six psychiatrists (all played by Carrie Ann Mallino) and the host of a ludicrous take-off of a game show on which Rachel, Pooty and Lloyd appear.

There are several otherscenes and incidents too numerous and complicated to describe here, all of which further impinge on the well-being of the protagonist.

The play was written to be performed without an intermission in order to take advantage of the rapid accumulation of events. It was a mistake to have one.

The final scene, Rachel's metamorphosis and reunion, has enormous potential for great pathos and poignancy. Unfortunately, this production fails to realize this potential. Thus the full impact of Lucas and his messages are all but lost. Without this, the audience is pretty much left adrift.

The production was directed by 1987 WMC graduate Josh Selzer, who earned an MFA at The California Institute for the Arts after he left Westminster.

Lucas' dramatic structure and style are missing connective tissue and coherence. The director and designers are responsible for providing this in the handling of the the pace, the transitions from scene to scene and the useof the stage. In that, this production fails.

This is the third production of this play I have seen and none has solved the problems well. This script is crying out for the film and, if the trade papers are accurate, we soon may have one.

Until then, "Reckless" continues this weekend in Alumni Hall.

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