At first, Christian Durso’s new play, Redline, seems to be a one-man show. James Eckhouse plays a man named Raymond, who lives in a small two-bedroom house situated just off Highway 395 north of Coleville. He speaks at length directly to the audience with self-effacing joviality, and no small amount of wit. He has a story to tell about how life can be shattered in a mere five seconds. It takes him a while to get around to it as he relates his earlier life as an upper level apparatchik in some kind of company that got bought out by some kind of European conglomerate, which, as part of the deal, insisted on buying out all the stockholders, of which Raymond was one. With his oodles of dough, he paid off the mortgage, improved his house on Fern Street in Pasadena, and bought the pearl white Chevy Suburban his wife coveted. He threw money at the dealer and got every option available. Still it was a troubled marriage with plenty of bickering over inconsequential things. They had a young son and a daughter with whom they took trips, most significantly, the long way to Lake Tahoe up the 395. A Chevrolet Suburban, as most know, is a massive vehicle that weighs 7200 pounds and gets fourteen miles to the gallon.
When he gets around to it, Raymond relates the tale of a winter trip to Tahoe, ending with a horrific crash involving multiple vehicles that left the family alive, but devastated. The day after the family returned to their Pasadena home, the wife took the kids and split to Arizona to seek refuge with her family there. Continuing the story, Raymond tells of his new life as an apartment dwelling bachelor.
When Raymond is done holding forth, the focus of the play shifts to Raymond’ son, Jamie (Graham Sibley), a man in his mid-thirties or early forties, who shuffles into the scene in cold weather gear and backpack. He takes on the monologist role and relates his experiences with its own triumphs and heart breaks right up to the present moment. He has much to tell and some of it parallels the story of Raymond. Eventually the monologues morph into a two-character play as father and son, who are essentially strangers to each other, come face-to-face and get down to the tarnished brass tacks that shaped their surprisingly parallel lives.
Crisply directed by Eli Gonda, the language of Christian Durso’s play, as rendered by the superbly capable cast of two, is a wonder that flows unmediated from the characters like a mountain cataract. It is thrilling to experience. The play also has moments of suspense when the action threatens violence.
The production design for the forty-nine-seat theatre is necessarily limited by the space available. Rachel Myers’ scenic design, with lighting by Josh Epstein, works well in suggesting the living room of the small house, with minimal furniture, lights that are raised or dimmed by a smartphone, and an old fashioned stereo set that can blast out Led Zeppelin (kudos to sound designer Peter Bayne). Costumes by Melissa Trn reinforce character and action, and props by Michael O’Hara flesh out the environment. There is an impressive bit of stage magic that sends the play rocketing into a climax with no dénoument.
Produced by Jen Hoguet and Tom DeTrinis for IAMA Theatre Company, Redline runs in repertory with Sinner’s Laundry at the Lounge Theatres, 6201 Santa Monica Blvd. in Hollywood.