Eric Bogosian’s play Humpty Dumpty starts out like any cliched horror film would: A group of vacationers go to an abandoned cabin in the woods only to find themselves locked in, with no electricity or means of communication with the outside world. However, the audience quickly finds this play contains something mostly absent from scary movies like Saw and Scream-a profound message.
“[It’s that question of] what happens when the power goes out? When you can’t get the news : and your imaginations begin to work overtime,” said director Sara Martinovich. “Living in an age of communication, we are so hooked up that not getting the news frightens us.”
Humpty Dumpty, which will be performed by the Loose Affiliation of Artists (LAA) at Center Stage Theater for two weeks beginning on October 4, delves into the fears that plague everyone struck by the recent technology boom. What would you do without email? Is there life after BlackBerry?
Yet the story takes the absence of electronic tools a step further, eventually reaching a state of complete isolation. When this isolation combines with the recent, post-9/11 atmosphere of anxiety in which the play is set, it is no surprise that pure chaos follows rapidly. Despite Nat the caretaker’s (Bill Egan) efforts to keep things running smoothly, the group’s one-week vacation quickly turns into a month, and their attitudes toward one another inevitably begin to turn as well. Relationships are questioned and civilized behavior is given a backseat as the predicament spirals downward toward an unexpected finish.
Brendan Fleming, who has played leading roles in both of LAA’s previous shows, will play Troy in Humpty Dumpty. Following his own motto-“the messier the character, the better”-Fleming easily finds a home in Troy, a snobby elitist whom Fleming calls “a total shark.” But this is just a part of the process for Fleming, who said, “My job is to make [the audience] like this guy who, on paper, is unlikable.” Despite the fact that Fleming admits his character is not someone he would ever want to stand in a room with, he reveals that “goddamn, is he fun to play.”
Humpty Dumpty is the third production LAA has produced including Tape and The Shape of Things, the latter of which Martinovich won an Independent Theater Award for direction. As for Martinovich’s instincts on reading Humpty Dumpty? “I didn’t like it at first, I didn’t know where it was going, and then when things started to unravel I was hooked,” she said.
This intuition proves to be an invaluable source for Martinovich, who relied on those same instincts just a year ago when first creating LAA with her coworkers. “It’s kind of cool that this literally started in a dressing room at the Ensemble Theatre,” said Fleming, who also is one of the original members of LAA.
Above all, LAA hopes audience members will leave Humpty Dumpty “pondering [the play], chewing it out,” and maybe also wondering if there is any hope in our scrambled world.
Humpty Dumpty will be at the Center Stage Theater (751 Paseo Nuevo) from October 4 through October 13 at 8 p.m. Call 9630408 or visit centerstagetheater.org for tickets and information.