The play has many moving pieces, interrelated storylines, inner voices, and a few repeated scenes. But while it's not always entirely clear where we are or where we're going, you never feel lost thanks to Noël Raymond's clear direction (walking the fine line between comedy and tragedy) and the terrific cast of five very versatile actors (Jay Eisenberg, Paul de Cordova, Randy Reyes, Sun Mee Chomet, and Tracey Maloney) who all play multiple roles. Christopher Heilman's set consists of a wall of pale wood with a section that works as a marker board (for writing mathematical equations, be still my heart!), and doors and windows that open. The stage within this wall is draped with a gold fringe curtain like a game show, revealing the framework of a room behind it.
|the cast of ≈ [almost equal to] (photo courtesy of Pillsbury House)
This is one of those plays that make things difficult for bloggers because it's hard to talk about. But it's pretty ingenious and innovative in its storytelling, educational and thought-provoking without being dry or preachy, outrageously funny and deadly serious. It takes place in the present in an unnamed city, and with the exception of a few things that my friend in the Nordic community says are very Swedish, the play could be set in any city in the Western world. It will definitely make you react differently the next time a homeless person asks you for spare change, and think twice about what those 401k investments really are.
≈ [almost equal to] continues through October 22. In my opinion, ≈ > UX (user expectation). Sorry, economics joke, you'll get it if you see the play, and you should.
*You can read more of Khemiri's work in the New Yorker.
This article also appears on Broadway World Minneapolis.