Prepare to be plunged into the black hole of memory in David Parr's eerie new play, Pluto is Listening. Beginning in a hospital room, the story takes on the familiar characteristic of flashbacks, following the lives of Gracie and Benjamin, the fat girl and the suspiciously gay boy, who strike up a friendship on their way to middle school. Wanting to escape from the banality of Pluto, Ohio, the two children converse with planets and play make-believe about far-away stars.
But childhood fancy cannot last forever, and the laughing teenagers discover they are now adults who have fewer things to be happy about. As Ben and Gracie grow older and the challenges of strained friendships and drugs jeopardize their dreams, the silly phrases and puns they say to each other take on new meanings and ultimately sour as the pitfalls of life make them nearly unbearable.
As the audience slowly learns the friends' history, they begin to realize that memory can be a nightmarish prison that promising escape but where inmates are buried deeper in their dying fantasies.
Inspired by true events, Parr's drama explores escapism and defeat by transforming the familiar tale of childhood outcasts into a mystery where memories are pathways that lead us indiscriminately to both joy and heartache.
Nick Lewis and Joleen Wilkinson present the whole gamut of life with excitement and vigor that adds wisdom to their childhood and youthfulness in the defeat of years. Terrifying and starkly beautiful, Pluto is Listening picks the rough shards of shattered dreams out of the oil spill of memory and examines each one with a sympathetic but sharp eye.
◊ Here's video produced by WaterTower Theatre, featuring a scene from the show:
◊ Pluto is Listening is performed in WaterTower's Studio Theatre. To see remaining performance times, click on the calendar icon in the factbox above.
◊ The 7:30 p.m. slot on the final day of Out of the Loop, Sunday, March 17, is reserved for the "best of the fest" in each of the three venues (Main Stage, Studio Theatre and Stone Cottage). These will be voted on by festival goers.