The title of the new play Rancho Mirage by Steven Dietz refers to a gated community outside an unnamed city in a desert area. But the mirage in the title also refers to the lives of three couples. All three have a secret, whether it's financial troubles or marital troubles, that is slowly revealed throughout the course of the play, until they and we realize that their lives are not what they seem, but simply a mirage. Currently receiving its regional premiere at the Old Log Theater, which is under new management and quite obviously stepping up their game, Rancho Mirage is a darkly funny look at American life, embodied by a fantastic cast of local favorites (and one former TV star). It seems that there are now two theaters in the Southwest suburbs worth the drive from my home on the opposite side of town.
The entire play takes place at a dinner party (although no actual dinner is consumed) at the seemingly beautiful and perfect home of Diane (Stacia Rice, now acting opposite her second desperate househusband) and Nick (James Denton). Their guests are Louise (Ann Michels) and Trevor (David Mann), also residents of Rancho Mirage, and Pam (Mo Perry) and Charlie (Joshua James Campbell). The pleasant and friendly conversation among this group of friends soon gets real as it's revealed that Diane and Nick are about to lose their home, Louise and Trevor are separated, and Pam and Charlie are struggling with the decision about whether or not to have children (and in fact vacillate so much between the desire to enjoy their lives without children and a sense of obligation to follow their friends into the expected role of parents, that I had a hard time figuring out who these characters really were). Secrets, mishaps, stories, and arguments all unfold as these six people are forced to face the mirage of their lives. Diane poignantly sums it up when she says, "I used to think that our life was this beautiful thing that hasn't happened yet. But there is no other thing, our life is this." The good news is that now that they see through the mirage, they can work to make their lives more real. (Another way to say this is "no day but today.")
|Joshua James Campbell, Mo Perry, James Denton,|
Stacia Rice, Ann Michels, and David Mann
Rancho Mirage continues through December 7. If you live in the Southwest suburbs, there's no reason not to check out the new Old Log Theater. I found it worth the drive to the charming lake town of Excelsior to see this fantastic cast in this very funny play. Old Log's season continues with A Year with Frog and Toad; Almost, Maine; and Steel Magnolias. I will definitely be keeping my eye on them.