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Photograph: Jason BeckIan Daniel McLaren and Tim Martin in Caffeine Theatre's Wreckage

Wreckage at Caffeine Theatre | Theater review

Caridad Svich’s meditation on Medea offers flashes of clarity but remains frustratingly abstract.

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Dramaturg Dan Smith’s program note frames Svich’s script as somewhat of a Medea adaptation; though it’s a helpful starting point that also ties into Caffeine’s other repertory piece, Brutal Imagination, don’t get too wrapped up in finding direct correlations to Euripides. More conglomeration of related themes than plot-driven story, Wreckage begins with two dead boys lying on a beach, awakening to the limbo of their afterlives. Possessing only vague memories of how they arrived, each is lured away from the beach and into destructive relationships, destined to relive their pasts as if for the first time.

Sound confusing? That’s because it is. Stylistically, fluidity of time and space meshes well with heightened language, but Svich places a detrimentally high priority on being poetic. She labels the boys “first son” and “second son”; it’s unclear whose sons they are, if anyone’s, or how they are connected to each other. The first (Tim Martin) is taken in by a rich older woman (Dana Black) and used as a pawn in her marriage, while the second (Ian Daniel McLaren) is picked up and pimped out by a dirty dandy-type (Sean Thomas). There are flashes of clarity during the boys’ struggles to find their place and power in the world, but while the strong ensemble digs deep to provide some level of coherence, the pervasive abstraction defeats it. Though aesthetically and aurally pleasing, this meditation remains just far enough out of reach to keep it from becoming truly affecting.

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