Fate or free will? It’s a dichotomy that can easily lead to insoluble clashes of conviction. In a time when we are pushed further to the margins of our own beliefs, acknowledging the pool of grey that lies between two monochromatic points sometimes requires an event whose order of magnitude approaches the universal. Continuing their current season’s theme of unnatural disasters, Interrobang takes on “Recent Tragic Events,” Craig Wright’s cosmically comic melodrama, a play that is as much about a national tragedy as it is about blind dates, determinism and subjective reality.
While Interrobang’s last entry was a piecemeal tribute that attempted to capture the far-reaching effects of Hurricane Katrina, “Recent Tragic Events” takes the opposite approach. Centering the action in a one-bedroom apartment in Minneapolis and focusing on the delicate and tenuous web of coincidence that connects two strangers, Wright’s play captures the feeling of being ripped from the world, of watching it and feeling it simultaneously like a sleepwalker.
Interrobang co-artistic director Georgette Verdin balances the play’s tone on a razor’s edge. On one side is bottomless absurdity, on the other is pitch-black tragedy. Her actors take on the noble task of bringing to life nobodies: apartment renters, book readers, pizza consumers. And yet that each of their lives proves to be so far flung and unlikely only serves to demonstrate that traditional heroes are, in fact, quite boring.
There is really too much talent here to celebrate each component in the detail that they deserve. Suffice it to say, this cast fits together exquisitely, their humor and heart in perfect alignment. The sound and light design (Morgan Lake and Claire Chrzan, respectively) creates an atmosphere of timelessness and unreality.
“Where do the chances stop and the choices start?” one character asks the ensemble, none of whom are in a position to offer a satisfying answer. “Recent Tragic Events” does not supply solutions but rather illustrates examples, like a field manual for surviving the horrors of uncertainty. Verdin and company lead us fearlessly into the abyss of Living History and show that the grey swaths of life are equal parts light and dark. (Kevin Greene)
Interrobang Theatre Company at Studio 2 in The Athenaeum Theatre, (773)935-6875, interrobangtheatre.org, $12-$22. Through April 10.