(World Premiere at 12th Avenue Arts)
Through July 29, 2017
Kevin Lin is fast becoming one of the go-to solid actors in our little town. Last year, he had two prominent roles in two very good productions. In Caught, at Seattle Public Theater, he played an artist and in Book-It’s adaptation of A Tale for the Time Being, he played a man forced to become a soldier even though he could not kill. In Ghostlight Theatricals’ January production of The (curious case of the) Watson Intelligence, he played three different Watsons with very different personalities.
Now you can catch him in the middle of a sci-fi dystopian thriller-comedy by MAP Theatre. It’s also a world premiere by R. Hamilton Wright called Greensward. Lin stars as scientist Dr. Timothy Hei who has invented a most amazing kind of grass – it never needs watering or fertilizer or weed-killer or thatching or even any particular soil, and it only needs mowing once a year!
Just think of what a grass like that could do to stabilize desertification in Arizona or California, not to speak of Asia or Africa or the Middle East! And that news immediately attracts both a frenzy of news coverage and people who would like to control or destroy the product for their own nefarious reasons.
Dr. Hei is a naïve and socially awkward nerd who doesn’t quite realize what the world might want from him once they hear about the invention. He begins to be managed by a media consultant, April (Peggy Gannon) who puts him on tv programs and manages invites to international parties. He gets visited by threatening black-suited guys named Kemp and Lothar (Jason Marr and Nik Doner) and meets Flora the eco-terrorist-feminist (Marianna de Fazio) and billionaire T. Scott (Ashley Bagwell) who made his fortune in lawn mowers.
With a spare set of patches of grass and some 3-D rotating triangular pillars by Brandon Estrella, director Richard Ziman keeps the hijinks rolling, the laughs landing, and the plot thickening. It’s a very fun ride with a contemporary environmental feeling that keeps twisting in satisfying ways.
You never know what’s going to happen until it happens, and the ending is not a foregone conclusion. Wright’s dialogue is smart and well-considered, scientifically plausible, and situated in a world where we absolutely believe that’s what powerful people might fight about. That’s not to say that things don’t get pretty outrageous along the way and when you see what’s under Bagwell’s cowboy hat, you’ll see what I mean.
The rest of the fun cast includes Melissa Fenwick, Bill Higham and Cole Hornaday. Most people play multiple roles and each one is well delineated and fun to watch. de Fazio and Bagwell, in particular, prove yet again that they love quirky roles that they can outrageously inhabit.
This is certainly well worth leaving sitting on your lawn drinking to drinking inside and hearing all about lawns. It’s suitable for all ages, too, so the whole family can have fun (for about 8 years and up).Also, MAP has debuted an all pay-what-you-choose ticket model that allows for all budgets to be accommodated.