Mease’s Omega Kids has such an original new voice, a new way of hearing naturalistic speech, that you can’t stop hearing it afterwards. It’s like the first time you’re exposed to Mamet, except instead of the patter of slick urban hustlers, we get the feints and accommodations of basically kind-hearted if somewhat lost millenials.
What little plot there is is about Michael having arranged to stay for the weekend in Boston with Mike after a conference they both attended before returning to New York and starting his new job and living with his new roommates. They’re both out of college, both outsiders, sexually different boys who survived their youths inside of comic books and video games, where their specialness might be hidden superpowers.
Nothing really happens. Intimacy might. Or not. It’s a series of utterly unforced vignettes over the course of a long, aimless evening of basically hanging out. Many vignettes show the same basic interaction–the two having shifted positions on the carpet, Michael making conversation, resuming telling some part of the storyline of the Omega Kids comic book series, trying not to push it too hard with Mike. We could do with about three fewer vignettes and not lose a thing. But the sense of privacy and generous attention is palpable, with both actors but especially the so-present and disarmingly and charmingly tuned-in Will Sarratt.
It all takes place inside a crafted artifice inside a gallery space–a black cube some thirty-odd feet across, inside of which are seats along a black ledge around the perimeter, suspended over what appears to be white gravel in the center, like a zen garden waiting to be raked, with a backpack and a comic book incongruously tossed on it. When the lights come up we recognize it as a large square section of thick white carpeting, a slice of life from a remodeled apartment.
Inside the artifice is masterful, intimate naturalism. I had to look at the script to convince myself the dialogue wasn’t all improvised. The honking and truck noises wafting up from the street are integrated into the sound design, a clever attempt to mask that unfortunately calls attention to the problem.
Another experimental touch is to put a copy of the same Omega Kids comic book they’re looking at and talking about on stage on every chair. We’re invited to peruse our copies before and even during the show–like we’re hanging out too–but the lighting is too dim for that. Still, it motivated me to read it afterward and further extend the feeling of having been in the piece.
The comic book tells about an uncomfortable night passed by a group of X-Men-like teenagers, no longer protected by mentors, with powers that have not yet fully emerged to create a sense of a path going forward. Like Michael and Mike, they’re in an uneasy quiet space in between dependence and destiny.
It was so great, you know? Just that, whatever, sense or something of it. Like a tentative lingering.