Andrea Agosto (left) and August Forman in "A Kind Of Weather." Photo by Simpatika
Kid (August Forman) is trans and in transition in more ways than one. Gender and career identity are crystallizing. Romance (with the editor of Kid's book, Rose (played with pluck by Andrea Agosto) is blooming, albeit uneasily. Then comes the capper: Kid's father (Andrew Oswald) shows up out of a clear blue sky, disoriented and despondent and asking to crash indefinitely. The skies above Flatbush, Brooklyn, circa 2012, are darkening in Sylvan Oswald's "A Kind Of Weather," having its world premiere at Diversionary Theatre in University Heights.
This production directed by Bea Basso is undeniably absorbing from start to finish 90 minutes later. Oswald has a talent for literate but unpretentious language, and the sorts of interpersonal conflicts dramatized in "A Kind Of Weather" need not be confined to the specific crises of its characters. Many of us know too well the slings and arrows of relationships with estranged parents or with potential romantic partners. Much to its credit too is the production's five-person ensemble, led by Forman, who fashions a sincerely vulnerable but forthright portrayal of Kid while anchoring the play's disparate emotive directions. Oswald, a recent honoree of the San Diego Theatre Critics Circle for his performance last year in "The Hour of Great Mercy," also at Diversionary, conveys with subtlety all of Grey's tormented complications (his unfaithfulness to his wife, his infatuation with his lover, his guilt over his wife's subsequent sudden death, his conflict over the transition of his daughter, now son). Agosto's Rose when not in flirtation mode, is the story's blunt, sensible voice.
The messaging of the play is clear and dynamic enough, though the story's presentation takes many divergent theatrical turns. Kid, Grey, Rose and Janice, Grey's lover (played with dignity by Marci Anne Wuebben) recurringly address the audience directly in monologue, only to shift back into the rhythm of a scene. Kid and Rose's tense romancing gives way on a couple of occasions to MGM-big-screen fantasy sequences. All characters break into a stagy musical number at one point. In the execution of these strategies, the play's thoughtful tone persists, but I actually found myself being taken out of the story more than once to the point where I felt I was watching not people, but characters. A constant musical hum in the background was also distracting.
Kid's plight and, at the same time, Forman's performance as Kid, kept me involved on all levels, weathering if you will the production's overreaching for ingenuity.
"A Kind Of Weather" is the first in a trilogy of what Diversionary Theatre is calling its "Gender Series." Next up will be Miranda Rose Hall's "Plot Points In Our Sexual Development," beginning March 26.
"A Kind Of Weather" runs through March 8 at Diversionary Theatre in University Heights.
David L. Coddon is a Southern California theater critic.