It’s my guess that legendary author Lewis Carroll would be impressed, if not intrigued, by playwright Craig Lucas’ modern reincarnation of his classic Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. There are no smoking caterpillars or snarky Cheshire cats, but Lucas’ play is equally hallucinatory. Set during the Christmas season, Reckless tells the story of an Alice-like character searching for answers in a less than utopian world. Directed by Richard Henrich, Spooky Action Theatre’s take on this popular 80’s offbeat play, will entertain, amuse, and surprise the especially open-minded and imaginative audience.
…well worth the trippy ride.
Rachel (Mundy Spears) is the perfect updated Alice, now a bubbly, naïve suburbanite whose comfy world is thrown into tumult when her husband Tom (Cameron Robertson) makes a shocking and fateful confession. Spears, who hops and giggles about the stage, is convincing as a sheltered woman who has lost her way. Her doe-eyed expressions and optimistic gestures make her quite likeable despite the character’s odder decisions throughout the play. Spears even manages to produce laughs versus rolled eyes, as she delivers both ditzy and learned lines with charisma and humor. “These things happen for a reason,” Rachel repeats scene after scene. “I could be anybody,” she concludes. Bouncing blonde wig and all, Spears commits to this demanding role, never showing signs of fatigue or ennui.
Likewise Jim Zidar is a commanding force as Lloyd, a man with both a generous heart and a seedy past. As a stranger turned Rachel’s ally, Zidar’s portrayal of Lloyd is at once gentle giant and threatening as the character undergoes his own rickety transformation. Zidar’s thunderous baritone voice lends an air of sophistication to an otherwise despondent and flawed character. As a result, he appears both wise yet dangerously rough around the edges.
Also memorable is Hillary Kacser who portrays Rachel’s grab bag of slightly off kilter doctors. Whether real people or mere figments of Rachel’s imagination (you decide), Kacser balances each distinct personality with apparent ease. Whether a skeptical “shrink,” beatnik, turban-wearing therapist or sympathetic social worker, Kacser transitions at lightning speed from one character to the next without missing a beat. She is versatile, weird, quirky, and sometimes even creepy – everything you’d want in a set of characters given reign over poor Rachel’s impressionable little mind.
Tiffany Garfinkle is believable as Pooty a deaf paraplegic with plenty of layers and juicy secrets hidden behind her innocent smile. Cameron Robertson is memorable as Tom Jr., his delivery appropriately youthful and endearing. Doug Krehbel’s exaggerated portrayal of Tim Timko, host of the fantastical game show, Your Mother or Your Wife, is welcome comic relief after several weighty scenes. And actress, Gale Nemec literally glimmers as a twisted and narcissistic star-author relishing in the bizarre talk show spotlight.
Spooky Action Theatre makes the best of a limited performance space. Despite a few noisy and distracting technical glitches, the production staff transitions nicely between scenes by using rolling platforms and large moving walls to differentiate between locations. Set designer JD Madsen creates an ambitious array of settings – a cheap motel, a glitter-laden game show set, a stripped yet colorful living room – to support Rachel’s near mythical journey. Also, costume designer Lynly A. Saunders cleverly infuses the play’s underlying Christmas theme into the wardrobe by dressing each character in varying shades of red and green. Overall, while the play’s cavalcade of dream-like sequences nearly sends the audience into sensory overload, Reckless comes to a sweet and surprising end that’s well worth the trippy ride.
Running Time: 90 min with an Intermission.
Advisory: Some Adult Language
Reckless plays at Spooky Action Theatre through October 28, The Universalist National Memorial Church,1810 16th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20009. For tickets click here.