Cal State Long Beach’s play “Current Nobody” opened with a full wave of melancholy at the Queen Mary.
The play, originally written by Melissa James Gibson and directed by John Langs, is an adaptation of Homer’s “The Odyssey,” focusing on Od (David Vegh), his wife Pen (Sarah Underwood) and their daughter, Tel (Jocelyn Hall).
The original epic poem is about Odysseus who leaves his wife Penelope and their one-month-old son, Telemachus, to fight in the war in Troy. The soldier is gone for 20 years during his journey.
“Current Nobody” borrowed Homer’s storyline with a twist. The wife, Pen, is the one who leaves home. She is a photojournalist who goes to document war-torn Troy as part of her job.
Tel is still an infant when she leaves. But on her way to Troy, Pen is kidnapped and held captive for 20 years. Her husband, Od, stays home to raise Tel, which is a very lonely experience for him.
Vegh did an excellent job portraying the emotions of anger, loneliness and sadness that Od endures for the 20 years. It was heart-wrenching to watch him mark the number of days his wife was not home on the front door.
He hides, lonely under the bed covers, while Tel is busy at school. Tel tries to cheer him up but to no avail. She even tries to stop her father from marking on the door, but Od just marks on his own forehead using his tears.
Od stood out on stage as the saddest character. He spent his time moping about the house with a sad face. He didn’t have a life and allowed time to merely pass him by, desperately waiting for his wife’s return.
The play also had interesting special effects to intensify and accentuate Od’s emotions. The sight and sound of thunderstorms were used when Od expressed an intense display of anger or sadness. For example, when Od received a phone call about Pen’s kidnapping, he threw the phone to the floor as thunder came up in the background.
There was a memorable trio of journalists, Joe (Alex Levin), Suzie (Rowena J-Poitier) and Jo (Anne Popolizio), who are making a documentary about Pen and the raging battle in Troy.
The trio functions like a Greek chorus as they interview Pen, in turn helping the audience learn more about her persepctive of her own odyssey. Pen’s interviews mostly reveal how much she misses Od, all while showing old photos of Od with young Tel as she narrates her stories.
“Current Nobody” is a low-key play that looks into the meaning of family in depth. The play is straightforward with what it wants to share with the audience and provides an exciting view on an ancient tale. It’s a good play to see around the holidays.
“Current Nobody” is showing at the Royal Theater at the Queen Mary. Show times are from Tuesday to Saturday until Dec. 12 at 8 p.m. with 2 p.m. matinees on Saturdays. There will be no shows during Thanksgiving week.
Tickets are $20 for general admission and $16 for students, military and seniors 55 and older. For ticket information or call 562 985-5526 or visit the Web site at www.calrep.org.