Jet lag will leave you tired, disorientated and grumpy. That sums up “Valparaiso,” the Necessary Theatre’s current production. Playwright Don DeLillo offers a treatise on how businessmen are robots, how human beings struggle with “being” and the media’s habitual requirement to turn the ordinary into the sensational. “Valparaiso” struggles through these themes, never successfully ties them together and leaves Necessary’s actors to sort out a muddled mess.
The journey begins when Michael, intending to travel to Valparaiso, Ind., winds up in Valparaiso, Chile via Valparaiso, Fla. The accidental itinerary is a media phenomenon. Michael (Robert McFarland) went off course because his computer-generated ticket didn’t read Indiana. Afraid to speak up, Michael went to Chile and found enlightenment while trying to suffocate himself at 30,000 feet. The suicide was foiled when the “fasten seat belt” sign flashed and Michael — not one to buck the system — returned to his seat.
Michael’s wife Livia (Delilah Smyth) is just as loopy. Husband and wife are on autopilot because of an accident involving their son, but little is revealed about what happened. Because there were walnuts in her salad (seriously), Livia got pregnant by someone assigned to document Michael’s trip. Things go way off course when the pair appear on a talk show hosted by Delfina (Becky LeCron Poschinger) and Teddy (Brian Walker), her creepy sidekick. In the final ridiculous scene, Delfina strangles Michael with a microphone cord. Teddy and Livia (radiantly pregnant) don’t stop the murder because it is presumably what Michael wants.
DeLillo’s hallucinogenic play seems to say that we are so depraved that live murder is all right. But DeLillo, the flimsy acting (except for Poschinger’s energetic performance) and static directing don’t make you believe it. The one takeaway here is when Livia says she is a part-time unpublished poet. Aren’t we all?
BY DANA NORTON