Review by Bryan Stryker
What if the fate of the entire world was controlled by the temperament of one person? Is one person really controlling everything from Hurricane Katrina to the tsunami that ravaged southeast Asia? That is the premise of Wait of the World by Peter Dagger and presented by the Planet Connections Theater Festivity.
As an astronomy class starts, the students learn that their beloved professor (Jenny Checchia) is not going to be in, and that a substitute will be taking her place. While they wait, the students begin to argue the basic tenets of their class; this leads into a discussion of astronomy versus astrology. Soon the students discover a notebook that their teacher left behind for them. It's instructions say that the contents should be read to the entire class. With this, the audience is introduced to Adam Moody (Harry Einhorn) – a child conceived entirely out of love, whose father was killed by a lightning strike at the moment of Adam's conception.
Adam has always been an odd child. The house he lives in keeps sinking into the ground. His mother has grown used to getting concerned phone calls from teachers due to the graphic nature of Adam’s poetry and pictures. Thankfully, his Mother (Joyce Miller) never had to worry about putting those pictures on the refrigerator, since Adam seems to have the power to keep magnets from staying on the fridge. As the story progresses we learn of Adam’s “power” – namely his mood swings that have caused everything from the tragic Southeast Asia tsunami to Hurricane Katrina. In fact, the professor has discovered that Adam is the child the Mayan’s predicted would ultimately hurl Earth into the Sun in 2012.
In her final message to her class, the professor advises her students to live life to the fullest. With only a few years left until Earth is destroyed by the sun, she is choosing to go out and find her own love, rather than staying shuttered in her scientific realm.
Director Jeremy Bloom makes an intriguing move in staging Wait of the World – he moves the audience to the stage and the actors to the platforms that normally house the seating area. This clever use of space, superbly realized by designer Sean Ward, allows the actors to perform in a multi-level environment. The only downside of such a choice is that late comers to the play easily steal focus when they open the door, as they are directly in the audience's line of sight, and the positioning of a few seats directly under speakers sometimes impedes the ability to hear the actors. Otherwise Bloom keeps what could be a rather banal piece moving and engaging, and incorporates grade school science “tricks” to emulate the turmoil in Adam and the havoc he is causing.
While the play is about Adam, who is wonderfully brought to live by Harry Einhorn, the true standout of the show is Joyce Miller. She wonderfully portrays a combination of exhaustion from raising a most unique child, and, seemingly, indifference as well. Nothing fazes Mother and that comes across in Miller’s performance. Through her performance we empathize with her, and marvel at how she has managed to make it this far.
Playwright Peter Dagger's play is a little unwieldy at times and without the strong direction from Jeremy Bloom, the moral he wishes to convey could easily get lost. There is a bit of a letdown at the end when you learn Doctor’s message is simply to go out and live life to the fullest. The moment falls flat and takes the power out of the previous 90 minutes.
Wait of the World
Written by Peter Dagger
Directed by Jeremy Bloom
Scenic Designer: Sean Ward
Featuring: Jenny Checchia (Doctor), Joyce Miller (Mother), Joe Tannenbaum (Scientific Researcher), Rachel Richman (Priestess), Harry Einhorn (Adam Moody)
Planet Connections Theatre Festivity
Closed June 27th