Play for Today: West Lethargy
Today is the birthday of the excellent actor Joie Bauer (who you can follow on Facebook). Joie has appeared in a number of plays featured on Indie Theater Now, but today, in his honor, we shine the spotlight on the very first one I ever saw him in, which is West Lethargy by Stephen Kaliski.
In West Lethargy, Joie played Ringle, a man who has come west, with his wife Nugget, at least partly to try to find Nugget’s brother, who has disappeared in this nameless area in the middle of America on his way to California. Ringle and Nugget chance to meet another couple, Ellie and Turner, who likewise has stopped in this place, perhaps only temporarily–or perhaps they will go to California themselves.
Steve’s play is filled with enigmas and mysteries as it ponders some of the myths and truths at the root of this country of ours. In my review, which I wrote after seeing West Lethargy at FringeNYC back in 2010, I wrote:
West Lethargy's characters sometimes seem like they should be archetypal, but they're not; they're as individual as Americans are supposed to be, and they each have their own strong desires to invent themselves and their own mythologies. Sometimes this allows for connection among them and sometimes it makes for an ineffable kind of aloneness.
And here’s Steve himself on the themes of the play:
Like the four siblings of Three Sisters and the talking heads of Beckett, the two couples of West Lethargy can richly imagine their destinations, but when it comes to actually moving their feet, they’re left looking out the window, confined by that pervasive longing that so defines this theatre of the stuck. These stories remind us that planning an endpoint is not the easiest step of the journey. In fact, it can be the most suffocating.
West Lethargy is fascinating and filled with beautiful, lyrical writing. It also owed much of its success to its strong cast, which included, in addition to Joie Bauer, Jeffrey Feola, Graham Halstead, Mikaela Feely-Lehmann and Suzanne Lenz. I hope you will check it out on Indie Theater Now!