Lizzie, who’s 13 on the time of the journey, is flanked by 14-year-old Tucker (Ethan Dubin) and 17-year-old Rob (Jordan Bellow) within the again seat. The siblings take turns commenting on the motion, and at first it appears as if Harnetiaux is establishing a conventionally amusing reminiscence play peppered with nostalgic particulars: Rob wears guyliner and a Treatment T-shirt; the mom (Annie Henk) consults a paper map, earlier than falling asleep beneath it; the daddy (Pete Simpson), in his plaid shirt, seems to be like a Trad Dad doll.
“California” is actually amusing, although not standard, neither of which comes as a shock from Harnetiaux. She displayed a aptitude for the dryly surreal in “Tin Cat Footwear” (2018), which was offered, as this new present is, as a part of Clubbed Thumb’s Summerworks collection (“What the Structure Means to Me,” “Tumacho”). And her very humorous multipart podcast play, “The MS Phoenix Rising,” featured an experimental director attempting to stage Eugène Ionesco’s absurdist one-act “The Chairs” aboard a cruise ship.
“California” is a very good showcase for non sequiturs and dream logic, as when Mother begins buzzing nonsense phrases and Lizzie says, “Mother, that’s not, like, a tune.”
“It could possibly be,” her mom replies.
However as with “The Chairs,” which Ionesco described as a “tragic farce,” the present takes on a darker tone as unreliable narrators bend reminiscence and actuality into an ominous tangle of complicated chronologies and alternate prospects. The bottom is consistently shifting away from each the characters and the viewers.
Will Davis’s manufacturing is greatest when conjuring an ominous temper continually overshadowed by dying — foretold, remembered, alluded to, imagined. It may be the passing of one of many characters. Or it may be the mass deaths of nuclear Armageddon; the highway trippers drive by the Hanford nuclear plant, created as a part of the Manhattan Undertaking. And the automotive, evoked with simply chairs and the lighting designer Oona Curley’s atmospheric cues, turns into a claustrophobic enclosure touring throughout area in addition to time.