Futuristic fable FLOOD makes world premiere at the KC Rep, runs through Feb. 19

Laura T Fisher And Matt Decaro In Kcreps Originkc World Premiere Of Flood Photo By Don Ipock

Edith (Laura T Fisher) and Darren (Matt Decaro) in the KC Rep’s OriginKC World Premiere of FLOOD.// Photo by Don Ipock

FLOOD, written by Mashuq Mushtaq Deen, made its world premiere at the Kansas Repertory Theatre Feb. 3. It was staged as part of the OriginKC: New Works program, meant to support powerful, artistic voices originating from Kansas City and beyond.

This play was originally scheduled to premiere in 2020, but the pandemic shut it down. However, the themes and storyline of this show are timeless, and only small changes had to be made when staging it years later than anticipated. 

Matt Decaro In Kcreps Originkc World Premiere Of Flood Photo By Don Ipock

Matt DeCaro in KC Reps Originkc World Premiere of FLOOD.// Photo By Don Ipock

“I call it a futurist fable,” director Kenneth Prestininzi says. “It’s a story we’re going to always keep telling as we approach the future, not a story that happened way back in the past.”

FLOOD, a “Theater of the Absurd” play, shows a day-in-the-life of Darren and Edith. While their values align with marriages in the 1960s, the show doesn’t stand in one time period.

They live on the nineteen floor of an apartment building, and through their window they have “a very pleasant view” of the ocean. Darren painstakingly works on his “great structure,” while Edith passes the time by recording the couple’s unanswered questions in red notebooks that fill the apartment.

Watch as Darren and Edith struggle to maintain the status quo and enjoy the comforts of their middle-class life, as the water rises outside their window. 

The couple is portrayed by Laura T. Fisher and Matt DeCaro. Darrington Clark playing Darren Jr. and Jamie Morrow playing Edith Jr. round out the cast as their children that have left the nest and now live with families of their own on lower floors of the apartment building. 

Deen says the first seed for this play was planted after the 2016 election. A question being asked at that time was why so many white women voted with their husbands, bringing a publicly misogynistic man into office. 

Laura T Fisher In Kcreps Originkc World Premiere Of Flood Photo By Don Ipock

Laura T Fisher in KC Rep’s OriginKC World Premiere of FLOOD.// Photo By Don Ipock

“The question sort of distilled and distilled and became why do women stay?” Deen says. To me writing is a way to explore something that I may not understand or I might find amusing or frightening in the world.”

The play uses a sit-com-esq setting to address “catastrophes” the world is facing, today. The three most prevalent are climate change, the generational divide, and the waning of the “American Empire” as exemplified in 1950s gender roles and attitudes.

Edith and Darren’s children act as a siren in this show, trying to warn their parents that these problems are prevalent and will drown the world if left unchecked. The parents try to stick to what they know until they come knocking on their window, literally.

“It’s about the questions in our life that we have put aside for too long, and then come rushing in and flooding us at the end,” Prestininzi says. “It is shown through this heritage that still holds the standards of the 1950s marriage as ideal, and we have questioned that ideal so it can no longer hold. Their children are in a vastly different role than that, so the gap between parent and child is very hard to cross.”

Prestininzi says that he was excited to take on this project because there was so much to play with within the catastrophes. Since the two had worked together before at New Dramatists, there is a trust between them that allows Prestininzi to use theater magic and physical storytelling to make the show jump off the stage.

Darrington Clark Laura T Fisher Jamie Morrow And Matt Decaro In Kcreps Originkc World Premiere Of Flood Photo By Don Ipock

Darrington Clark, Laura T. Fisher, Jamie Morrow, and Matt DeCaro in KCRep’s OriginKC World Premiere of FLOOD.// Photo by Don Ipock.

“I love to direct plays that I wouldn’t write,” Prestininzi says. “My philosophy, as an artist, is I’ll bring something out in the play that no other director will, and then the play will bring something out in me that no other play will bring out. There’s going to be so much it’s going to ask of me in so many fun, demanding, and challenging ways.”

Although the show is packed with this fun imagery, satire, and humor, it floats along at a sometimes agonizing pace. Maybe it is for the audience to understand what people mean when they say life was slower in the 1950s.

However, the person on stage that never dragged, was Laura T. Fisher as Edith. She nailed every nuanced line and her physical comedy was outstanding. I could tell exactly what she was feeling before she delivered a line. The entire cast gave heartfelt and touching performances, but I left the KC Rep Copaken Stage raving about Fisher. 

In addition to making you think, the show will have you laughing-out-loud. Deen refers to this style of writing as “humor of recognition.”

“We are not laughing at them, but–perhaps a little nervously–at ourselves,” Deen says.

When asked what they wanted the audience to take away from the show, Deen and Prestininzi say that they don’t want to put expectations on how someone will feel after seeing the performance, but they do want the play to resonate with them.

Darrington Clark In Kcreps Originkc World Premiere Of Flood Photo By Don Ipock

Darrington Clark in KCRep’s OriginKC World Premiere of FLOOD.// Photo by Don Ipock

“It’s a silly little thing, but I sometimes think what we do is we have the lights go out and then people are watching the show, and then, secretly, it’s like, we’ve gone into their seats and we grabbed their heart and we moved it over a centimeter,” Deen says. “Then the lights come up, and they wake up again, and they have to reconcile something inside themselves.”

FLOOD will run at the KC Rep until Feb. 19, on the Copaken Stage.

The run time of the show is 90 minutes, and there is no intermission. To purchase tickets visit the KC Rep website.

Categories: Theater