‘Transferal’ by Jack Novak was the last in Spook Action’s New Works in Action that was presented for the last month or so on-line on their YouTube channel. Fittingly, it was about letting go and living with a different reality than the one planned, imagined, or hoped for.
. . . this play is a celebration of living fully and vulnerably.
Endings and beginnings—what could be a more apt metaphor for life?
Kora (Linda Bard) and Cato (a lovely, flummoxed and very real performance by Aron Spellance) are young and in love. Cato has gotten a job offer that will take him overseas for a year and Kora still has one year left of college. But tragedy strikes in the form of an airplane crash. She has temporarily, maybe, come home to her mother, Rosa (a fiercely defended Toni Rae Salmi) to take refuge.
From this set up comes a parallel story of Rosa and Kelcey (Jon Reynolds), Kora’s father, and Rosa’s one-time love. This is supposed to explain Kora’s abandonment issues. Rosa deals with loss by inviting it and trying not to care, and Kora by trying to smother.
The script is mostly engrossing in the scenes between the pilot and Cato and the pilot and Kora (they actually go way back as she was struck by lightning as a child and inadvertently met him through that near-death experience). Unfortunately, the relationship between Kora and Cato is understated enough that it’s a little underwhelming when she tries so hard to bring him back from the dead.
At times the writing veers into clichés (as when Kelcey returns and after getting a lot of pushback from Rosa, says “Maybe I should go” and she replies “That’s what you’re good at.”). At that point I was so fed up with Rosa’s expecting him to read her mind (a supposedly stereotypical feminine trait) that I was urging him to go. Again, there wasn’t enough to the relationship to root for them.
Kora was easier to root for. Just like her mother (although she would deny this) she protected herself from abandonment by hiding her true self. And she’s young and self-centered. It isn’t until she actually thinks of what a life would be for Kelcey that she can trust herself enough to love him enough to let him choose his own path and know she’d be okay. That was a sparkling moment of growth.
The script is engrossing enough that you want to see what happens to the characters, and the actors very good at finding nuances in their characters that reveal the humanity inside.
It was an interesting reading and would be lovely to see this fully staged. (Playstation figures prominently in both Rosa and Kora’s lives, oddly enough). And one thing it did very well was to bring to the fore how holding onto how things “should be” stymies us from living. In it’s own odd way, this play is a celebration of living fully and vulnerably.
The final character is the pilot (an absolutely delightful and caring Terrance Fleming). Robert (aka Bob) Pike read the stage directions and the scene setting and did a masterful job with bringing in sound.
Show Advisory: Adult language, smoking.
Running Time: Approximately two hours.
‘New Works in Action’ has just been concluded. It streamed on the YouTube channel for Spooky Action Theater. For more information, please click here.