Fernando Gonzalez and Will Sarratt in “Omega Kids.” Photo credit: Hunter Canning
The New Light Theatre Project, in association with Access Theatre, presents “Omega Kids” – an intimate, absorbing story of two men finding connection across a plush carpet divide. It’s beautifully fragile and honest. You enter another world, a box, where there is only place for around 36 people to line the slightly raised four sides.
. . .crisp, fresh and enticing.
It’s a stunning expression of scenic design by Brian Dudkiewicz. He has created a containment zone that doesn’t let any ardent passion escape. The audience are given a comic book of the “Omega Kids” (created by Noah Mease) and you are encouraged to read it before, during, and after the show – which you end up doing. It is the portal into this living room, into the world of the play and into an alternative universe. In the sunken stage area, on a thick pile carpet, the two young men begin their dance of friendship on the floor. You’re right there with them for every blush, misstep, awkward pause, and overshare. It’s intoxicating.
Both men are named Michael. They have been working at a youth conference for gifted teenagers, which has recently finished. Comic book obsessed Michael is on his way to live in New York and has passed through Boston to spend the weekend with his newly found friend. Without the safety and distraction of the conference environment, they are both feeling slightly uncomfortable.
Michael rattles off plot lines and characters from his favorite comic book series, “The Omega Kids,” which he read one lonely summer, that was also a famous youth television series. Boston Michael had bought the first issue in the rebooted series, and it lays between them on the floor. This issue becomes the umbilical chord connecting them in desire, personal revelations and is the hurdle in the room that they must climb through to reach each other.
As the evening progresses, they cover the distance from stranger to friend in languid uneasiness. It’s pure agony; you can’t get enough. The air is charged with the tension of two people navigating their own sexuality, self-confidence, and need. I loved every single intense second of it.
Noah Mease has written this tender and erotic moment in time with the skill of an observant voyeur. He has extracted every intangible marker that heralds a courtship that is underway and shows us how we deny what we know to be true. The dialogue is genius as it circles around the unspoken craving in the room. Fascination is a third character in the apartment, provoking revelations and daring and coquettishness. It’s the universal moment before you fall into someone or out of bounds. The words are exquisite pins stuck on a cork board map showing where you have been and are going. The unspoken is the earth that’s moving under our feet with a gentle rocking passion.
Director Jay Skull has done a breathtaking job with this production. Each episode in the play has its own delicate momentum and focus. The subtle shifts in physicality create epic changes in the viewer. It’s compulsive viewing as he constructs each moment perfectly to add to the building tension. The staging is brilliant. Playing in the round is a difficult task, but he makes it look so easy. He keeps the actors in constant motion without ever making us feel sea sick. His direction is crisp, fresh, and enticing.
Fernando Gonzalez is exceptional as the lost boy controlling his fate with sheer force of will. He commands the stage with his easy sexuality and pulls you into his web. He played the cool exterior and the broken child with emotional honesty and heartbreaking sincerity.
Will Sarratt was phenomenal as the guest whose passions can’t stay contained as he floods the living room with borrowed narratives to tell his personal stories. He was so deliciously innocent and self-effacing and funny as comic book Michael. He played Michael’s inability to allow connection with such earnestness that it was deliciously painful to watch. The two actors have the most exceptional chemistry on stage. They vibrate in each others’ company. They make a formidable stage duo – creating each moment together with shared commitment.
Scot Gianelli’s lighting design was extraordinary. I found his floor lighting to be particularly inspired. It told the parallel subtext of each moment in corresponding color, supporting the action beautifully. He really made a truly intimate, delicate space with his halogen and LED brushes.
This is a special treat of a show. The inventive set and staging, as well as the naturalistic, glorious performances, made for a heartwarming night at the theatre.
Running Time: 85 minutes, with no intermission.