A man walks through a door like a rock star. He’s accompanied with his cowboy hat, a suitcase, and a history that lives beyond his vinyls. But the world he enters is a world that is unfamiliar. He’s entered a world of the present because his past has finally caught up with him. In Carnival Kids by Lucas Kavner, presented by the powerhouse company Lesser America, we watch the falling star of the titular band as he attempts to regain a relationship with his son he’s forced to move in with.
Dale, a man of the past who is way out of touch with technology, moves into a New York City apartment with his adopted son Mark and his eccentric roommate Eckland. Early on we learn that Dale is in a pickle and in need of a quick buck. Eckland, who has found fortune through a rising iPhone app, convinces Dale to join a dating app where he can make $10,000 by simply marrying a woman in order for her to gain her green card. All this happens while he tries to salvage a relationship with his son, who’s a soon to be lawyer. Meanwhile, Mark reconnects with Marisa, a girl from his past, who are the epitome of missed connections. At the heart of the play are the intertwining stories of love and rekindling past relationships. Kavner’s script is sharp and filled with wit. His characters are filled with secrets that, despite conveniently lining up to the needs of others, are poignant. Despite this, the characters are surprisingly accessible, allowing the relationships to seem genuine to us. Sure, some of the relationships are a stretch, they’re beautiful to watch as they grow, or diminish.
The set by Meredith Ries provokes possibility within the plain. It’s easily transformative, allowing for the other locations to appear. However, the horizontal stage is long, constraining director Stephen Brackett to force some audience members to stretch their necks to the extremes. Beyond the staging, Brackett’s direction is quite lovely to watch. His care for the characters and their bonds with one another allows Kavner’s story to excel.
Carnival Kids is a fresh, invigorating story that goes beyond the mundane. Yet another hit from the Lesser America kids.