Forge Repertory Theatre debuted their premiere season with a time-travel fantasy about three advenuturesome women exploring an unknown mass they call “terra incognita.”
“On the Verge or The Geography of Yearning” marks Forge Repertory Theatre’s entry into the Kansas City Metro theatre community that continues to grow and expand. Forge brings a set of young minds with vision and focus to attract new theatre-goers by bringing fresh productions or fresh adaptations of older plays. “On the Verge or The Geography of Yearning” brings a 1985 play about time-travelers and their glimpses into the future.
The time-travelers come from a Victorian past with Victorian apparel, completely inappropriate to travel, record, map, photograph, chart, and explore different locations, periods, and civilizations. They stumble into some unique places during their travels and encounter fragments of current culture which brings laughs to this comedy. And, along their way, they meet interesting men (all portrayed by the same actor).
While on their adventure the women get mental messages and names of items, persons, and sayings (I like Ike) that confuse them until they realize the messages are future fragments of the culture they visit–Cool Whip, Noxema, Burger King, egg beater, Congolium, cream cheese–to name a few.
As they journey forth they encounter male characters all played by Jace Willcutt. His characters range from the African explorer, Dr. Livingston to Mr. Coffee, to a 1950s promoter, to a Hayseed attendant. Each encounter brings more glimpses to the futuristic society they visit.
“On the Verge; or, The Geography of Yearning,” a play written by Eric Overmyer, makes the audience wonder what they experience with this comedy-fantasy piece. By the end of Act I the time travel becomes apparent. The play reminds of such movies as Back to the Future, Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, and the TV series The Twilight Zone where the impossible turns out to be possible.
Directed by Ryan Fortney, the cast conquered a difficult script that appears to have no story-line or plot. Finally, near the end of Act I the story line begins to piece together, giving the audience clues to the path. Once the path and plot string together, the comedy heightens.
At times words, from the 20th Century bring laughs. The randomness of the pre-cognitions the actresses say provide the audience with snatches of memories and continue the comic elements. At other times, the characters bring the comedy with their delivery, inflections, innocence, dialect, and nuances.
Hats off to the cast who provide an incredible journey from the 1800s to the mid-20th Century. They create the captivating characters that make “On the Verge” work so well. The cast is: Nancy Marcy as Mary Baltimore, Annie Schwaner as Alexandra, Sonia Gwin as Fanny Cranberry, Jace Willcutt, as eight characters. Pay close attention to Marcey’s exit speech. It’s amazingly random, lengthy, and would be next to impossible for many to deliver better.
The one weakness of the script is that it is so slow in bringing the audience in to find their comfort level. The same idea and format could use some chopping. Some sub-plots do not move the play forward and do not advance the story significantly. Other than that, the play is a fun adventure in friviloty. Make no mistake, “On the Verge” challenged both audience and actors.
“On the Verge or the” continues through Dec,15 at The Black Box Theatre . Tickets and/or reservations are available through Forge Repertory Theatre website or by telephone at 816.226.7154.
Tags: “On the Verge or The Geography of Yearning” review, Forge Repertory Theatre, The Black Box Theatre, Kansas City Theatre, Kansas City Performing Arts, Kansas City Arts & Entertainment