So an Orioles fan, a fireworks salesman, a theater critic, and a “Polar Bear” walk into a theater. Those trying to decipher this curious lineup won’t find a punch line, but rather an absorbing quartet of stories constituting Brent Englar’s A Year of Living Dangerously.
The series of vignettes includes an interview with diehard Orioles/Nationals supporter, a conversation amongst commuters stuck in 4th of July gridlock, breakfast between a playwright and his theater critic friend, and a trip to Sandy Point State Park for a chilly winter swim.
The well balanced ensemble of Dean Davis, Rich Espey, Elizabeth Galuardi, Alexandra Hewett, Britt Olsen-Ecker and Alexander Scally ably tackle the wide range of characters. Rich Espey stands out among his polished colleagues. With his soulful eyes and world weary physicality, he brings a captivating pathos to the roles of long-suffering fan and playwright toiling in small town obscurity.
Audience members not native to Maryland can still appreciate the sense of local pride coursing through the production. Englar treats the audience as if they’ve been here before, providing just enough loving detail to create perfectly paced microcosms of each character’s larger story.
A Year of Living Dangerously is an intimate, well-acted production that gives the sensation of leafing through someone else’s photo albums or eavesdropping on a stranger’s conversation. For a minute, I felt as if I really knew the characters. And then, all too soon, they were gone.
A Year of Living Dangerously has 4 more performances at Redrum – Fort Fringe, 607 New York Ave NW, Washington, DC.