Existentialism Gone Wild

Get ready for a wild ride.

City Theater Company opens with “Reckless” this week. The CTC folks call this bizarre play by Craig Lucas “typical Christmas fare.” Then again, it’s typical of the CTC folks to make such a claim.

Here’s the warm and fuzzy plot, according to CTC: “After Rachel is told to leave her home on Christmas Eve by her husband, who has taken out a contract on her life and now has second thoughts, she goes on a road trip of epic proportion.”

Traditionalists (like me) will turn to Dickens during the holidays. Non-traditionalists (also me) will welcome a brilliant yet caustic holiday comedy like “Reckless.” Lucas (“Prelude to a Kiss,” “Blue Window,” “Light in the Piazza”) explores a heroine’s existential quest for home—except in this case, the home she seeks bags the psychopathic husband.

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Lucas weaves moments of realism throughout the script, and the audience feels the bumps of Rachel’s wild ride. The initially guileless character morphs into a figure of cynicism. According to critic Ben Brantley, who reviewed the play for the New York Times when it debuted on Broadway in 2004 (and starred Mary-Louise Parker as Rachel), the play “milks the tension between a goofy surface intoxication and a core of cold sobriety. A perkily told sad story of a runaway waif-woman in the wide, wild world, ‘Reckless’ remains a beguilingly sneaky crash course in the loss of innocence.”

Director George Tietze takes on a challenging piece, but it’s perfectly aligned with CTC’s style. Get ready for a crazy night. As Brantley wrote, “By the show’s end, you may feel as if you’ve undergone a fast-forwarded program in Prozac withdrawal.”

“Reckless” features a local ensemble cast that includes Victoria Rose Bonito, Jim Burns, Maggie Cogswell, Todd Holtsberry, Michelle Jacob, Eric Longo and Kerry Kristine McElrone.

Contact info: “Reckless” runs through December 18. Visit city-theater.org.

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