Friday, October 11, 2019

Chance Theatre’s “The Vandal”: A Mystery? A Sci-Fi? Or A Case Of Loneliness?

Not everyone would be as forthcoming as the ‘Woman’ (Amanda Zarr) in Hamish Linklater’s “The Vandal” now on stage through Oct. 27th  at Anaheim’s Chance Theatre on the Fyda-Mar Stage. Most, sitting alone at a secluded bus stop, next to a cemetery late at night would be anxious for the bus to come along and be whisked away.
Sam Bullington and Amanda Zarr
Let’s jus say for argument’s sake she was preoccupied.  She did, however, sit at attention when teenaged boy “Boy’ (Sam Bullington) saddled up beside her on the park bench and started asking questions, but first tells her that this bus stop is at the center of a triangle with a hospital, a cemetery and a liquor store. She reveals that she was at the hospital visiting a friend. He tells that he was at the cemetery.  

Soon into the conversation he asks her to walk to a neighborhood liquor store just around the corner and get him a six -pack of Bud; he was underage. Maybe. He gives her a $20.00 dollar bill to make the purchase.

She finally relents and was ready to buy the Bud when the proprietor, Man (Rob Foran), questions her motive for the purchase, and more questions. She was in the area for what purpose?

Her drivers license and her credit card didn’t, what? She was getting the beer for whom? The Boy was his, what? He liked Doritos not the hot stuff she was eyeing. How did he know?

Where did the boy go when she returned with the Bud? And why did the Boy leave when the Man came to the bus stop? Were their stories truth or fiction? Was he for real or not?

Chance Theatre’s west coast premiere of “The Vandal” is leaving its mark on this relatively new play that’s as much a story of connectedness as it is about truth, real or designed to look true to form.
Robert Foran and Amanda Zarr
Director Kari Hayter and her three member cast are so tightly connected that the one act about 70 minutes long account digs into your brain that so much of what we are seeing and hearing becomes an exercise in ferreting out the truth, or just accepting that it is their reality and move on.  

In the car headed back to San Diego my colleagues and I went back and forth about what we thought was real, imagined, Sci-fi or a great imagination on the part of the playwright to spook us out on Halloween. I doubt the latter.

This was my first time in the new smaller (52 seats) of the theatre’s two stages. The intimacy created lent it to the bonds that were created by the three excellent actors who seemed bound to each other in both good and bad ways.

Ms. Zarr, who is on stage the entire time, impressed as a woman who knows herself and isn’t afraid to show it. Mr. Bullington is a wiz at casting his long shadow as a con man, but is he for real? Rob Foran’s gentleness is just what is needed to put a tender and calming face on the overall tenor of the play.  
Robert Foran and Amanda Zarr
Joe Holbrook designed the set’s bus stop, liquor store and cemetery, all in that triangle. Nick Van Houten designed the lighting; Elizabeth A. Cox designed the perfect outfits for each character. Cricket S. Myers’ designed the sound.  All technical designs enhanced the overall production without being intrusive or taking away from the the varying elements Linklater is promoting.

It seems that themes of connectedness and loneliness are in the forefront of our playwright’s mind these days. I think back to the recent new play “Coast Starlight” by Keith Bunin, or Terrence McNally’s “Frankie & Johnny in the Clair de Lune”, at OnStage, and yes, “The Vandal”. Each and every character in these plays is looking for the right connection, the right nod of approval and perhaps knowing that he/she is not alone.

It’s worth a drive north.

See you at the theatre.

Dates: Through Oct. 27th
Organization: Chance Theatre
Phone: 1-888-455-4212
Production Type: Comedy Drama
Where: 5522 E. La Palm Ave, Anaheim, CA
Ticket Prices: $20.00-$39.00
Venue: Fyda-Mar Stage
Photo: Doug Catiller, True Image Studio

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