Through Sunday, July 2
Kennedy Theatre, Raleigh
At first, Struck
playwright Sandy Rustin seems to have a solid premise well in hand. Her script takes on the unforeseen consequence of a recent advance in social justice, one we can’t disclose without spoiling the plot. A striking, unexpected twist at its center commendably reframes the narrative, forcing characters and audience to confront a little of the evil in the world.
Actor Emily Kron plays Vera Resnick, an appealing, mildly neurotic New York actor who’s convinced the universe is trying to tell her something when college student James (Liam Yates) runs into her with his bicycle. “It feels intentional,” she tells her skeptical husband, Nate (Sid Solomon), taking the accident as an existential prompt at a crossroads in her life.
But when a sassy, sitcom-style neighbor named Vicky (Melissa MacLeod) arrives to read Vera’s aura, vend homeopathic cures, and pursue the cosmic implications of the collision, things start to go awry in a promising script. Rustin apparently doesn’t trust us to grasp the plot’s nuances on our own, so Vicky’s always there to mount a soapbox or conveniently underline the moral with a theatrical Sharpie. That's when she's not busy nakedly grilling new arrivals or elbowing Vera toward her next plot point.
Broadly overwritten and, under Gina Rattan’s direction for Theatre Raleigh, equally overacted, this expositional device masquerading as a supporting character is a temptation the playwright should have resisted. On a warmly lit, Ikea-inspired apartment set, Vera ultimately makes a universal connection that you wouldn't expect from the opening scenes. By then, though, the achievement is already compromised by cut theatrical corners and a flawed script.