A wannabe novelist, an aspiring young filmmaker, an extremely liberal HBO executive, and a 17 year old fighting with her identity and religion bring together the cast of City Theatre’s production of Oblivion by Carly Mensch. This incredibly quirky and ultramodern script tells the struggle of a family when their high school basketball star daughter brings home the news that she wants to become a Christian. Oblivion runs through April 26 at City Theatre.
We begin in the Brooklyn apartment of the self-proclaimed hip parents Pam (Lisa Velten Smith) and Dixon (Quentin Maré) questioning their daughter, Julie (Julia Warner), where she had been the weekend prior. We learn later at the laundromat, that Julie had gone with her Korean friend Bernard’s family to their annual church retreat. Julie strives to keep her curiosity in religion from her socially yet non-practicing Jewish father and overtly agnostic mother. After some snooping by Pam and investigating of Bernard (Christopher Larkin) by Dixon, the family finds out Julie’s secret, and they wrestle over how to deal with her want to find a higher power.
Through the devoted friendship between Bernard and Julie, we realize that Julie only looks to religion to find a larger meaning to her teenage life. Julie serves as Bernard’s muse for his first film, a silent black and white project portraying Julie as herself in her daily life. Bernard hopes this film will convince his family to let him live his dream of going to film school.
The kids truly outshine their adult acting partners, and Larkin was the outstanding performance of the evening. Larkin commandeered the stage as the soon to be high school graduate and brought to life the subtle nuances of a boy growing into his own grandeur. Warner, a 2013 graduate of Point Park, brilliantly gave us a portrayal of a young woman wanting more from her existence on Earth. Velten Smith and Maré did an amicable job at showing us a couple being torn apart during a rough spot in their marriage. Even if their characters lacked full depth, they did their best to pull together a compelling performance.
Director Stuart Carden brings together a wonderful production and a great night in the Southside theater. Gianni Downs, set designer, deftly alludes to locales but lets the words of the characters fully bring those sites to full life. Truly a sight to behold, the set features a scoreboard, a stained glass window, satellite dishes, a working dryer, and a handful of lamps, yet never distracts from the characters’ words. Elizabeth Atkinson created an original score that paired nicely with the projections created by Jordan Harrison.
If you get the chance please see Carly Mensch’s new play Oblivion at City Theatre. A cute and quirky play that turns the tables on parent/child relationships. With a fantastic cast and a superb production team, you are sure to enjoy the evening on Pittsburgh’s Southside. Oblivion runs now through April 26. Tickets range from $36-$56 and can be purchased online here.
Thank you to City Theatre for two complimentary press tickets.