Dark Wood

Dark Wood

Dark Wood
By Peter McGarry
Directed by Winnie Wenglewick
Brown Venue
Orlando Fringe Festival
Loch Haven Park, Orlando, FL

Get three of your most intellectual friends. Go to this show. Drink heavily, then discuss. True, everyone is naked for the whole show but ignore that, it’s no “hot bodies” show. Instead, this story dives deeply into the human condition. The nudity will sell seats, but the butts in those seats have to do some thinking to do. Rico (Cody Dermon) and Strong Arm (Johnathan Susser) were born in captivity; their world is proscribed and mysteriously automatic: food arrives, poop disappears, and sex is at the sole discretion of the zoo keeper. Newcomer Mbwane (Taylor Pappis) was captured in the wild. There he led a tribe, found food, mated at will, and had a code of honor: win a fight, and give the loser a chance to concede and flee. The trio agues which way is better until a mysterious explosion lights the sky, stopping everything. The food stops, the people stop and their world is frozen. Escape was always an option, and now it seems like a good excuse of an adventure. But the outside world is little better even as a new life arises: Strong Arm is mentally stuck in his cage, Mbwane realizes things are much worse than he thought, but Rico finds his proper ecological niche.

There room for argument and interpretation in a multilayered play like this, and while the nudity is provocative it’s not essential. What is essential is seeing ourselves in miniature: we have incomplete models of our world whether we live in Conche, Newfoundland or the Large Hadron Collider. We adapt to these worlds, and build little internal models that help us through the day. But they are never complete, and “life changing events” are what show us those flaws. Death of a loved one, serious injury, or nuclear holocaust all force us to reconsider and painfully fear the future and fondly recall the past. We also see that answer often lie in plain sight: Rico knew how to escape for ages; it just never became an issue. Don’t like those arguments? Great. Let’s grab another beer and you talk for a while.

This show was part of the 2015 Orlando Fringe Festival. Information on tickets and times may be found at www.OrlandoFringe.org.

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