|Before and After: the VW in "Sixty Miles to Silver Lake"|
“Sixty Miles to Silver Lake” by local playwright Dan LeFranc (whose work may also soon be seen in “The Big Meal”, being produced by Zeitgeist Stage Company) is one of two plays currently on view (in true repertory) by Bridge Repertory Theater of Boston. The other work, previously reviewed on this site, is the one-person performance by Obehi Janice, “Fufu & Oreos”. This play, a taut two-hander of some seventy minutes in length, is about a father, Ky (Barlow Adamson), who is taking his son, Denny (Kristian Sorensen), in his VW to a newly acquired Silver Lake home near Los Angeles. It's one of the weekends he gets to have with Denny, sharing custody with his divorced (unseen, but much discussed) wife. As Directed here by Shana Gozansky, it's an intriguing if ultimately less than satisfying, deconstructed portrayal of the relationship between these two combative types. Both actors, with gestures and timing, succeed in keeping the dialogue in the fast and furious lane, managing to evoke different stages in their growing interplay, as well as making the trip(s) all too believable, even when the author throws a couple of mysterious (and unexplained) curve balls.
The creative team consists of the same troupe responsible for the look and sound of “Fufu & Oreos”, with Scenic Design by Anita Shriver (cleverly camouflaging the cardboard set built for the other play), crucial Lighting Design by Juliana Beecher and Sound Design by Andrew Duncan Will, and simple but appropriate Costume Design by Tyler Kinney. The focal point is another deconstruction, namely a cutaway car created from an actual VW automobile. (A Volvo was used in some prior productions, but budgets are always a concern for a relatively new theater company, and in this case a very responsible choice).
But it's about those curve balls. Without giving away too many possible spoilers, there are brief instances when Denny is clearly worried about safety and his father assures him that they may not yet be, but will soon be, safe. From what, we never learn. Obviously the playwright intends the audience to fill in some of the blanks, just as he does with some audible flashes forward to Denny's possible adulthood, but, as theater, this is frustrating to say the least for the theatergoer. It's a worthwhile trip nonetheless, thanks to some fine direction and acting. You may, though, find yourself asking, “Are we there yet?”.