Yale Repertory Theatre
“The Plot,” the excellent and intelligent new play by Will Eno, is making its world premiere at Yale Repertory Theatre in a fine and supremely confident production. Focusing on a plot of land in a graveyard that developers want to purchase, this new work covers a lot of territory, ranging from very funny comedy to deep despair to some genuine surprises. Director Oliver Butler has done a superlative job of staging this show and his cast of five actors is uniformly wonderful.
Staged on a terrific outdoor set (fantastically designed by Sarah Karl), which reveals part of a cemetery and a dilapidated gazebo, “The Plot” is made up of a series of short scenes and one can feel from the beginning of the show that this production is in very good hands. In fact, this is one of the most sterling world premiere plays that I have ever seen and, if there is any justice, “The Plot” deserves a life past it run at Yale Repertory Theatre.
When the play opens, the character of Joanne (splendidly portrayed by Mia Katigbak) is searching for her husband, Righty (the superb Harris Yulin), who has wondered into the graveyard at night during a period of confusion, due to Alzheimer’s. Righty is the nickname for Joanne’s husband and it is immediately established that this behavior is a pattern that the couple goes through frequently. One can also see that Righty has purchased a gravestone and a plot of land, which ultimately becomes the central focus of the play.
Also occupying the stage is the character of Donna (the lovely and funny Jennifer Mudge), who works for the abrasive Tim (the nicely nasty Stephen Barker Turner), a developer who is trying to work out a way to buy the plot of land from Righty and Joanne. In addition, there is an interesting fifth character, an artistic man named Grey (and played very well by Jimonn Cole) who figures into the show in a supporting, yet crucial, role.
One would hate to give anything more of the play away because most of the joy of seeing “The Plot” is watching the succession of scenes, which reveal more than a few surprises, both with the story in the show and in the way the characters don’t exactly turn out the way one would expect them to be. Playwright Will Eno’s writing is smart and funny and he has a gift for giving the people in the play dialogue that seems completely naturalistic and organic to each character. In fact, “The Plot” is so engrossing that the show’s hour and forty-five minute running time (without an intermission) seems to fly by in an instant.
Credit must also go to the appropriate and spot-on costume design by April M. Hickman, and Evan C. Anderson’s atmospheric and incisive lighting design is simply brilliant. The same can be said for the work of sound designer Emily Duncan Wilson (who also contributes the ideal music in the play): the sound in “The Plot” is crystal clear and it almost seems that the play is actually taking place outside, what with the noise of insects and other creatures and one scene where the rain sounds like it is coming down torrentially.
Actually, just about everything about “The Plot” rings true and it is this mastery of both the story in the play and the way that it is told that makes this show so deeply gratifying. Suffice it is to say that things in the play do not remain the same from the beginning to the end and the relationships of the characters in “The Plot” develop in highly unusual and unexpected ways. It is heartedly recommended that you make your way to Yale Repertory Theatre to see “The Plot” for the chance to witness a new play that, one hopes, will have a bright future.
“The Plot” runs through December 21, 2019 at Yale Repertory Theatre, 1120 Chapel Street, New Haven CT. For tickets and more information, please visit www.yalerep.org or call the box office at 203-432-1234.
Photo: (L-R): Stephen Barker Turner, Jennifer Mudge, Mia Katigbak, and Harris Yulin
Photo by Joan Marcus