“Oblivion”

Susan Granger’s review of “Oblivion” at the Westport Country Playhouse (Aug/Sept. 2013)

 

Someone once said that you can tell your child is growing up when she stops asking where she came from and starts refusing to tell you where she’s going. That’s precisely the dilemma faced by a frustrated teenager and her progressive parents in Carly Mensch’s inventive, unpredictable dramedy, currently having its world premiereat the Westport Country Playhouse.

Pam and Dixon consider themselves to be ultra-liberal, open-minded parents, living in upscale Park Slope, Brooklyn. She’s an executive at HBO; he’s a former corporate lawyer-turned-wannabe novelist. But when their 16 year-old daughter, Julie, suddenly starts lying to them about where she was last weekend, they’re bewildered.  Sullen and fiercely defensive, Julie claims she was with her best-friend Bernard, an earnest wannabe filmmaker with a fixation on film critic Pauline Kael.  As it turns out, Julie has been sneaking off with Bernard to a fundamentalist Christian youth group, and they spent the weekend at an evangelical retreat. This absolutely flummoxes her
part-Jewish-turned-secular-atheist parents – and that’s the thematic conflict.

TV scriptwriter (“Nurse Jackie,” “Weeds”)/playwright, twentysomething Carly Mensch adroitly tackles sensitive subjects – belief, as opposed to religion, along with spiritual identity – that are not often explored on-stage. With four
fully-realized, three-dimensional characters, it’s challenging social commentary, cleverly staged as provocative theater by Mark Brokaw (“Rodgers
& Hammerstein’s Cinderella”). The ensemble cast of Katie Broad, Johanna
Day, Aidan Kunze and Reg Rogers artfully and believably embody the
coming-of-age drama – making for compelling theater.

You can see “Oblivion” at the Westport
Country Playhouse through Sept. 8. Tonight –Wed., Aug. 28 – is Teen Night, when
teens are invited to meet the actors for pizza and soda at 6:30 and will
receive one complimentary ticket for the 8 p.m. performance and 50% discounted
tickets for their parents/friends. The 3 p.m. matinee on Sat., Aug. 31, is
Mom’s Day Off – with a mimosa toast on the patio and tickets priced at $30. For
more information, call 203-227-4177 or go to www.westportcountryplayhouse.org.