The "Rocket Man" in question is Donny (played by Matt Wall, whom I like more every time I see him, adept at playing the empathetic and relatable everyman). Donny is a divorced father and surveyor who wishes he were a landscape architect. You might say he's having a mid-life crisis, but it feels like more than that. He keeps losing track of time (he thinks his daughter's birthday is this week, but it was really last week, oops). He decides to give away all of his possessions and go on some undefined journey far away, possibly into the stars themselves. He has interesting and sometimes difficult relationships with his ex-wife Rita (Rachel Austin), teenage daughter Trisha (Anna Beth Baker), surveying partner Louise (Shana Eisenberg), and best friend Buck (Lanny Langston). Each one visits him in his attic, which contains the remains of his life, and questions him about his choices. The second act takes a fantastical leap which I won't spoil here, but it has all the same characters, only different, in the same situation, but different. The premise is something quite fascinating to contemplate. Curious? Good.
|Trisha (Anna Beth Baker) and Donny (Matt Wall) gaze at|
the stars (photo by Charles Gorrill)
Any play that sends me to the internet to look up a scientific phenomenon is a good one in my book. In this case, it's the precession of the equinoxes (yes, that's a real thing). Which Donny relates to his losing track of time. Rocket Man actually reminds me a little of my favorite play Arcadia in the way it talks about time, and how it can only move forward. Or so we think. Rocket Man also explores the idea of faith, mostly through Louise, who is in seminary school, and Buck, who thinks God is telling him to build an arc. I find this interchange between science and faith an interesting one to explore, as this play does.
Rocket Man is a lovely little gem of a play. I didn't know what to expect walking into the Crane on Monday night, and sometimes that's the best setup for a wonderful and moving experience. If that piques your interest, check it out at the Crane Theater in Northeast Minneapolis through April 1.