Winning University of Oregon Cast Scores with Comedic `Reckless'

Article excerpt

Byline: Theater review by Dorothy Velasco For The Register-Guard

CAN A NIGHTMARE be funny? According to playwright Craig Lucas, it can. His absurd comedy, "Reckless," now playing at the University of Oregon, hurls its plucky protagonist from one nightmare existence to another and keeps us laughing along the way.

Rachel Fitsimmons, engagingly played by Kirsten Schmieding, is married and the mother of two small boys. She describes herself as terminally happy and is prone to euphoria attacks. When she discovers that her husband has hired someone to kill her, she flees into the snow on Christmas Eve, wearing nightgown, bathrobe and slippers.

She is taken in by Lloyd, a kindhearted physical therapist, and Pootie, his deaf-mute paraplegic wife. Rachel changes her name, finds a job, wins money on a game show, survives more attacks on her life, and eventually realizes that life comes full circle. The future contains the past, no matter how successfully she reinvents herself.

Rachel learns that loved ones, just as much as enemies, can harm us, intentionally or by accident. Fate is reckless with our lives, and an innocent bystander is just as likely to take the punch as the person for whom it was intended.

Directed by graduate student Rich Brown, the lively play is cleverly staged, with props used in surprising ways. Some scenes are viewed on television monitors, and some of the action is videotaped as it happens. This isn't just a stylistic gimmick, however, and there is logic to it.

The plot elements fit together like a finely crafted puzzle, but eventually the story line grows thin. The action becomes less compelling in the middle of the second act and then gears up again for an emotional, satisfying ending. …