Thursday, February 20, 2020

“A Kind Of Weather” Makes World Premiere At Diversionary Current Fare.


Playwright Sylvan Oswald identifies as a transmasculine interdisciplinary artist. That’s a mouthful for those of us just getting used to the words ‘trans’ or ‘transitioning’ or ‘transgender’, gender nonconformity, transsexual, gender reassignment, queer gender or labeling ones self as we/they or us. In the words of other mortals, “Get used to it!~ 
August Forman and AndrewOswald in "A  Kind Of Weather" At Diversionary.
Just recently at the San Diego Theatre Critics Circle Awards Ceremony, gender -neutral “Best” awards were ‘transitioned’ into categories that used to be gender identified.

No longer applicable thanks to artists like Jeremy Wilson, who won Outstanding Lead Performer in a Play as Hedwig in Diversionary’s “Hedwig And The Angry Inch”, or Pig Pen’s/ Old Globe’s Bianca Norwood’s portrayal of Despereaux at the Old Globe’s “The Tale Of Despereaux”, gender -neutral is here to stay.

In program notes Executive Director Matt Morrow writes: “While A Kind Of Weather” is not a ‘trans 101’ or trans coming out story, it does explore how gender fundamentally influences our lives, and how we as humans are always in a state of transitioning.”

Kid, an impressive August Forman, now making an outstanding debut in Sylvan Oswald’s world premiere production “A Kind Of Weather” at Diversionary Theatre through March 8th, gets an unexpected visit from his father Grey (Andrew Oswald -no relation to the playwright) whom he has not seen or been in communication with for some time.

August Forman as Kid in "A Kind of Weather" 
Why Grey shows up on Kid’s doorstep at his one bedroom apartment in Flatbush, N.Y. is anyone’s guess. Surely it’s an uncomfortable situation especially when he learns the stay is not just an overnight one. Nope. Suitcases indicate more than a one night stand.

The last time Grey saw Kid he was a she and now he is a transgender man on the verge of writing his memoirs about his transition. Unless I missed something, I’m still unsure of the Why of Grey’s visit unless it’s as simple as he’s lonesome and had no where else to go.

We learn Grey left his medical profession/practice and had an affair while married to Kid’s mother. The mother left the family home to spend time on Jamaica in a shabby motel room where both parents enjoyed good times. Shortly after she arrived on the island, she died. Period. Its no wonder Grey looked as confused as I felt. 
Marci Anne Wuebben and Andrew Oswald
Janice (Marci Anne Wuebben) was Grey’s par amour.  In flashback, she shows up during happier times when the couple was playful, in love and loving life. Why she left Grey after their affair is never fully explored.   

Oft times Grey is aware he’s in Flatbush, other times he thinks he’s in Jamaica, the island that is, not the Jamaica in the borough of Queens. There is no question he’s confused, sad and lonely. On the other hand, Kid seems pretty well adjusted for someone going through some tough life altering changes and all he wants is be left alone.

Kid is also a writer and on a book deadline. He is in the throws of a romantic affair with his book editor Rose (Andréa Agosto) and in between his life he’s trying to deal with his father’s acceptance of now having a son, depression, loss of wife, lover and especially his daughter; a quadruple whammy.
Cast of "A Kind Of Weather"
In the wings, Ricky (Solomón Maya) Rose’s boss, has concerns that Rose’s relationship with Kid will get in the way of her being a fair broker. Why his character is important to the story still  baffles me.

“A Kind Of Weather” as directed by Bea Basso, is time jumping and fluid as the prevailing winds. As a nonlinear piece the transitions from past to present to Flatbush to Jamaica can happen in the space of moments. Helping to follow with the transitions come when Forman and Oswald break the fourth wall and speak directly to the audience and to one another sharing family secrets and light banter.
Andrea Agosto and August Forman
As usual Diversionary is at the top of its game with an excellent cast. Andrew Oswald just having received ‘Outstanding Lead Performance Award’ from the San Diego Theatre Critics Circle for his role “Hour Of Great Mercy” at Diversionary continues on his roll as Grey, the displaced father in the middle of a life crisis. You can feel his pain, vexation and bewilderment that is a part of his mental being as he tries to navigate through life, as he knows it now.

Both men play well off one another and the exchanges they make are about as you would expect between parents and their offspring with one big exception, the tone between father and daughter is much different than between father and son. It shows once again that gender plays a significant role in how and what we relate to our children.

Andréa Agosto, Kid’s book editor, in this relationship with Kid shows signs of discomfort with her romantic involvement but remains confident in the book deal. She conveys that sentiment beautifully.

Marci Anne Wuebben is the breath of fresh air in the room that erases the underlying currents of despair when she and Grey relive their happier days, dancing and singing, drinking and being just young and frivolous again.

This ninety -minute no intermission play plays out on Yi-Chien Lee’s impressive wood slatted stage with all the intricacies leading to and from different locations.

Elisa Benzoni (another award recipient for costume design), designed the contemporary clothes matching each personality.
Andrea Agosto and August Forman
Lighting Designer Joel Britt’s lighting creates the changing moods and MaeAnn Ross’ sound complement the overall production.    

“A Kind Of Weather” is the first in a three play series on gender that Diversionary has on the docket. 

More to follow.


See you at the theatre.

Dates: Through March 8th
Organization: Diversionary Theatre
Phone: 619-220-0097
Production Type: Comedy/Drama
Where: 4545 Park Blvd. San Diego, CA 92116
Ticket Prices: Start at $15.00
Web: diversionary.org
Photo Credit: Simpatika

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