SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, Nov. 13, 2019 (Gephardt Daily) — The premise of Plan-B Theatre’s “Oda Might” is a simple one, which sounds rather like a very dark joke: A doctor, a patient and an orderly walk into a psychiatric hospital.
But don’t try and guess the punchline, because I can almost guarantee you won’t.
The play, at the Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center, is by Camille Washington, who is making her Plan-B debut as a playwright.
At first, it proceeds in a fairly comprehensible, almost predictable way. An unnamed doctor and patient are meeting in a psychiatric hospital in the early 1990s. Their meetings are court-ordered because the patient, who is also a medium, is serving time for murder, and we meet them in the middle of an ongoing doctor-patient relationship.
Washington is brilliant in her writing and Cheryl Ann Cluff in her direction, in that they let us settle into this convention: The patient, played by Dee-Dee Darby-Duffin, doing most of the talking, and the doctor, played by Yolanda Stange, as you would imagine, straitlaced, restrained, measured.
The patient slowly reveals more and more about her case. We learn that she may be in custody unjustly. It feels a little like we are watching one of the many TV shows about law and order, and for that reason, the first part of the show feels comfortably interesting, bordering on soothing.
But suddenly, a seemingly minor event happens, and everything that has previously been established begins to shift. As an orderly, played by Flo Bravo, spends more time in the room, the line between truth and reality becomes increasingly blurred and smudgy. And what we thought was a straightforward meeting between two people becomes something totally different.
Darby-Duffin and Stange have pretty major arcs in the show, which they both achieve with absolute mastery. While Stange goes from being totally reserved to much more undone, Darby-Duffin almost goes the other way, as if she is claiming control. The pair are without doubt two of the best actors in town. I would actually really like to see the show again to witness these two performances as well as watch the story again knowing the massive twist. Bravo does a good job too, in a much smaller role.
The production values are also outstanding. The play takes place in one room, surrounded by breeze blocks, with one high window. The set, by Keven Myhre, is stifling, claustrophobic — deliberately of course. The sound by Cluff; primarily distant voices and footsteps that would be the ambient sound of a psychiatric hospital, also achieves the same oppressive quality, as does the lighting by William Peterson. The costume design by K.L. Alberts is simple but effective.
“Oda Might” runs through Nov. 17 at the Rose Wagner, 138 W. Broadway (300 South). The show plays Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m., with additional performances Saturday at 4 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. Tickets are $22 and $10 for students, at 801.355.ARTS or by clicking here. Tickets are still available for the Friday show and both Saturday shows. The show runs 80 minutes with no intermission.
For shows that are sold out, a pre-paid wait list will form in the Rose Wagner box office one hour before show time. You must be there, in person, to get on the wait list. Then check back five minutes before show time. As many waitlisters as possible will be seated at show time. Those who can’t be seated will receive a full refund.