Sunday, January 23, 2011

Lost Land by Jennifer A. Kokai, Wogglebug Theatre, FronteraFest 2011 at Blue Theatre, January 19 - 29

Lost Land by Wogglebug Theatre

Jenny Kokai's Lost Land is engaging and entertaining but unfocussed, a multifold parable in which a sunken fiberglass whale is the narrator. Four stories are anchored at one place: "Lost Land," a lake at the center of a Disney-style theme park. The stories are widely separated in time.

The unseen leviathan narrator speaks either from outside time or from some date far in the future. Fred Bothwell is the voice of "Moby," a resigned, lightly humorous chorus slowly disintegrating in the depths of the waters. Three other stories are developed seriatum over the course of the evening:

-- In the 1950's with the Lost Land park in operation, two young women take jobs as wharf rat characters. They emerge periodically to hug visitors and to sign autographs. In the park's employee changing room, one impulsively kisses the other. Their mutual attraction confuses them. They lose their jobs when the theme park goes bust. One woman plans breathlessly for a little home and family in the suburbs; the other can't imagine such an existence but can't articulate an alternative, either.

-- At some other time, possibly contemporary with us, a young career woman is planning a real estate development around the lake. The theme park buildings have decayed and mostly disappeared. Having learned she's pregant, the woman sheds an unwanted boyfriend and elects to become a single mother. The baby girl's congenital defects require lengthy neonatal hospital treatment and surgery. Nurses intervene coolly, keeping the mother at a spirit-killing distance from the child.

-- At some future date after global catastrophe, a young man named Brown Bear lives in primitive conditions next to the lake. Minder, a wandering young woman, shows up. The two distrust one another at first but gradually come to an accommodation. We learn through their exchanges that the world has been devastated by plague. Eventually the young woman begins to show signs of the disease.

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