Lifestyle

Mosaic Theater’s ‘Sooner/Later’ Offers Universal Themes of Love and Loss

Allyson Currin’s “Sooner/Later,” could also be called the little play that could. The one-act, three-cast-member play draws its beauty and universality from the simplicity of the exploration of human emotions.

The romantic comedy is part of the Mosaic Theater Company’s Locally Grown Mosaic, an initiative that nurtures local, D.C. artists through commissions, new play development and full productions. This is the D.C. premiere of this not-so-new production.

Originally produced in Cincinnati in 2018, the play received the first-ever Trish Vradenburg Play “completion commission” from the Mosaic to help with its further development. The commission allows playwrights to refine their work under a program that focuses on ensuring women’s voices are heard.

Vradenburg was a playwright and screenwriter, in addition to being a pioneering philanthropist, novelist and journalist. She was among one of the most vocal in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease that claimed her mother. Her husband, George Vradenburg, endowed the commission in memory of his wife.

Ironically, Allyson Currin played in one of Vradenburg’s plays, “Surviving Grace” 15 years ago. Now, she presents the first commission in the late playwright’s name.

“Allyson Currin is one of our city’s wittiest, most prolific writers,” Mosaic’s Artistic Director Ari Roth said. “But she summoned something utterly unique here; a deep, personal story about what it means to be middle-aged and dating, parenting a surly 17-year-old, while navigating a separation of most elusive of natures. Because it has this amazing plot revelation we can’t give away, we can only say that it’s as much about the birth of love as it is about the acceptance of loss.”

The play tells the story of Nora (Erica Chamblee), a middle-aged woman trying to reenter the dating scene at the urging of her teenaged daughter, Lexie (Cristina M. Ibarra), who stays on her mother about finding a suitable mate.

Along comes Griff (Tony K. Nam), the guy in the coffee shop who becomes an inadvertent witness to Nora’s multiple failed dates. And as one could predict, something starts developing between Nora and Griff.

What one can’t predict is the metaphysical twist of time, simultaneously in the future, the past and the present. That’s what sparks this simple story of love, parenting, loss, grief and longing, into an engaging and emotional tale of three people navigating a common landscape.

Without giving too much away, one of the multiple streams of emotionally charged themes will tug at any heartstring, as everyone has been in the position of one of the three characters at some point.

“I am profoundly grateful to my friend (and neighbor) Ari Roth and the Mosaic Theater for giving ‘Sooner/Later’ that most elusive of opportunities; a second production after a world premiere,” Currin said.

“It has been a pure joy to revisit this play, which is profoundly near and dear to my heart, and to reimagine it for my artistic hometown with the gentle, insightful guidance of director Gregg Henry and dramaturg Caleen Jennings,” she added. “I am so lucky to be a playwright, so lucky to get to go to work every day in this craft that I love, with the full support and complete enthusiasm of the marvelous Mosaic team. It’s all so dreamy.”

And so is “Sooner/Later.” The ethereal quality of this simple, but subtly touching play, is fully felt when the culmination reveals so many things that every human living life has felt. That is what makes “Sooner/Later” something to smile about, and a balm to the soul.

Following select performances of “Sooner/Later,” at the Atlas Performing Arts Center’s Sprenger Theater, 1313 H Street NE, through June 16, 2019, Mosaic will host a series of post-show discussions exploring resonant themes present in the work. The post-show discussions are free, beginning immediately after the performance. Visit www.mosaictheater.org/discussion for a full list and dates. Tickets can be purchased through the website, www.mosaictheater.org.

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