In the playbill for reWilding, now showing through Saturday night at the Yale Cabaret, YSD playwrighting student Martyna Majok writes of “a rural community in North Carolina that lives in the wild.” The people she describes have their reasons for living on the edges of what most of us recognize as “civilization.” What she wants to provide for the playgoer is some sense of the kinds of damage and drama and oddity that cause people to drop-out of one kind of culture to find community in the wilds. Majok asks, “What if you lose it? What if you chose the wrong thing? What if you realize you never had it? What if you simply perceive a lack, if you don’t know even the name of what you’re seeking?” Probing questions in this time of social unrest, volatile professions, of unemployment, of lost savings and property. If it’s not exactly easy to imagine alternatives to the world we live in, we have perhaps better reason than ever to ask our artists to imagine other possibilities for us.
Majok’s play is in itself a mixed bag: an eclectic assortment of rural types tell stories to us and to each other, and interact along, mostly, trajectories of reveal and conceal. This is not an open, easy-going community, it’s one fraught with psychic wreckage, with tensions that only fitfully rise to the surface—as for instance in Julian’s (Tim Brown) monologue about disappearing children—but elsewhere—as for instance when Eddie’s (Dan O’Brien) tale of how a pick-up he spent the night with was found dead is punctuated by testy comments from his girlfriend (Amanda Bermudez)—the full scope of these lives is only hinted at.
In a mix like this, almost everyone will find their stand-out character or performance. The play, directed by Dustin Wills with a good feel for the space, is a good match for the Cab since it’s always a treat to see so many students—it’s a cast of twelve—get a chance to try out well-written monologues and dialogues. Majok’s prose is at times insistently poetic, but never gratuitously so. It’s a play that’s a pleasure at times to listen to—as when Eddie tells, while changing lug nuts, a grippingly compressed story of a rather existential fishing-trip with his dad and brother. At other times there’s the fascination in how much can be communicated without many words—as in the awkward courtship rituals Quinn (Chris Bannow) directs at Adam (Mickey Theis), or in the rather baleful welcome that Agnes (Margot Bordelon) gives Eda (Ashton Heyl). Then there’s all-too brief comic grotesquerie when Chicken Man (Lucas Dixon) regales us with exploding, pill-popping chickens at the “disco-tecky.”
The set, also by Wills, is stark, almost maze-like with doors that serve as plank-bridges and lots of interesting detritus in the ceiling, evoking a kind of subterranean space, a junkyard of misdirections. Maybe somewhere in there is the “it” you lost, or the “it” you’ll find.
reWilding by Martyna Majok Directed by Dustin Wills
Yale Cabaret January 12-14, 2012