Professional Nonprofit Theater on Martha's Vineyard
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Dystopian Daze Delivers Both Humor and Darkness

Louisa Hufstader, Vineyard Gazette

Actress and Chilmark resident Brooke Adams made an auspicious playwriting debut Monday night at the Martha’s Vineyard Playhouse, with a sold-out staged reading of her new dark comedy Dystopian Daze.

Set several years in the future, after a fascist takeover has imposed new laws and fears in the United States, Ms. Adams’s play takes a bitterly comic view of enforced morality as it follows the misadventures of a loving but beleaguered family.

Public executions, mandatory homeless shelters (with medical experiments on all residents “regardless of age or race”) and government censorship are taking their toll on Molly and Jake, who have lost their former livelihoods in Hollywood and are reduced to living in a cramped apartment under the scrutiny of interfering neighbors.

Longtime actress Brooke Adams turned to playwriting for her new project. — MJ Bruder Munafo

Molly can’t even smoke her marijuana without opening a window and burning incense. Marijuana use now carries a sentence of life in prison. And Jake can’t smoke at all any more. He gets too stoned to stop. “We can’t afford it,” Molly says. Worst of all, their adopted daughter Anna is at risk of disappearing into the Mandatory Shelter for Research, which — according to the couple’s radio — is a new, 20,000-square-foot facility designed to hold 20,000 residents. Rebellious Anna, her head shaved bald, is sleeping on roofs and living out of a car with two dogs, three cats and the love of her life, Ally, a volatile, violent, foul-mouthed hot mess of a girl who could single-handedly hold down her own episode of the Jerry Springer Show.

Molly and Jake have already thrown the couple out once, and forbidden Ally ever to return. But with every neighbor a potential snitch and police actively scooping up the homeless, they can’t turn their backs on their daughter.

The problem, as Molly sees it, is how to save Anna minus Ally. Jake just wants his daughter to be happy and safe. Many parents will recognize themselves in the older couple, as anxious Molly schemes and laid-back Jake winces, wishing everyone could just get along.

For Monday’s reading, Ms. Adams assembled a strong cast of actors with Jenny Allen reading the stage directions. Jamie Donnelly and Alan McRae created a completely believable couple — Molly, the smart but slightly dingbatty mother desperate to save her child and burned-out Jake, who still believes things can somehow be okay.

Anna Yukevich played Anna with a balance of toughness and vulnerability, as the wayward daughter veering between cursing out her parents and hugging them lovingly. As Ally, Allie Spetalnick swaggered, sneered and nearly stole every scene she was in.

Ms. Adams’s sister Lynne Adams played Molly and Jake’s “annoying friend” Diantha, the kind of nosy pal who drops by at the worst possible time and won’t leave till she has your latest news — even if you don’t want to talk about it. It’s the smallest role in Dystopian Daze, but she inhabited it fully.

This was the last of the summer’s Monday Night Specials, an annual series of readings of new plays that often return in later years for more fully-staged productions at the playhouse.

The last full production of the season is Driving Miss Daisy, in performances through Oct. 7. For more information, visit mvplayhouse.org.

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