Unflinching, uncompromising ‘Road Trip’

By Wendy Carson

As you can guess by the title, “Abortion Road Trip,” Fonseca Theater Company’s latest offering deals with one of the most polarizing subjects of the last fifty-plus years. Rachel Lynett’s script delves into the reasons and reasoning behind the choice to have, or not have, an abortion. Nothing is sugar-coated here, which is why it is important for women especially to see and hear this story. I’m not saying it will change your opinion, but it will open some eyes as to what access to this single procedure actually means for the female gender.

Set in 2016, just after Texas made abortion access illegal, sisters Minnie (Leona Jones) and Lexa (Viviana Quinones) hire a cab to take them from their home in Houston to the nearest clinic in Albuquerque, N.M. (nearly 885 miles, according to Google). Lexa’s aversion to flying, she says, is the reason behind this strange mode of travel.

While on the road, Lexa, Minnie and their Driver (Carrie Ann Schlatter) talk through the incidents and choices that have brought them all together in this “adventure.” While Lexa is unwavering in her decision to have the abortion, her manic questioning and need for them all to “get heavy” hints at her anxiety over her entire situation.

These vignettes are acted out with the help of Megan Ann Jacobs, who portrays both Taylor (Driver’s wife) and Quinn (Lexa’s best friend and Minnie’s girlfriend), and Paige Scott as the sisters’ loving Mom. I would like to note that for anyone who thinks the stories are absurdist propaganda, I have either experienced or been a party to every one of these scenarios. They are far from uncommon or false.

The sets and props are sparse but road trips and memories need little to be portrayed, making the minimalist approach of Bernie Killian (scenic design) and Rebekah Radloff (props) a fitting lack of distraction. Mad Brown’s costuming skills are highlighted in the change of wigs and clothing to differentiate Quinn from Taylor.

Under the delicate guidance of director Abby Scharbrough, the cast brings this story together beautifully, leavened with dark yet appropriate humor. Jones shows Minnie’s courage and determination in finding her own way without ever feeling diminished in spirit. Quinones shows Lexa as a female who is realizing that she’s no longer a carefree child and now must make adult decisions and deal with their ramifications to everyone else in her life. Schlatter also balances her own character’s change from impartial non-observer to somewhat-willing participant by baring her own scars but holding back enough detail to keep their origins her own.             

Jacobs manages to craft her “accessory” characters into real beings. She shows Taylor’s journey through betrayal and tragedy, ending in a loving hopefulness for the future. Meanwhile, she gives Quinn a kindly sweetness that manages to belie her personal beliefs until they reach their ultimate conclusion.

Perhaps the most effective and stunning turn is Scott as Mom. She brings the love, understanding and warmth that we have all craved from our own mothers but they could never quite equal to the unconditional love and support shown here.

Whatever means of transportation you personally choose, use it to get you to the Fonseca Theater and watch this curious road trip unfold, through Feb. 26 at 2508 W. Michigan St., Indianapolis. Get tickets at FonsecaTheatre.org. (Note: The regular Saturday performance time is now 4 p.m., allowing audiences the evening free for other activities – maybe another play!)

Even when history is changed, have we?

By John Lyle Belden

From time to time, we all consider what the world would be like if certain historical events didn’t happen – or if others did. These kinds of thought experiments take on a particular point of view in “Apologies to Lorraine Hansberry (You too, August Wilson),” by Rachel Lynett, presented live in the space behind Fonseca Theatre, directed by Jamaal McCray.

“This exists in the mind of every person of color,” says Lynett through a cast member. Welcome to Bronx Bay, an all-Black state created after the just-completed Second Civil War. We who are White, Latinx, etc., are granted a brief stay to see how the story before us plays out.

Alice (Chandra Lynch) is a struggling restauranteur – the problem being that since she is a quarter Asian, she’s attempting a “Korean fusion” eatery. Her husband Lorenzo (Chinyelu Mwaafrika) is supportive, though privately believes tofu has no place in gumbo. Their close friend Jules (Latrice Young) has a new partner, Yael (Aniqua Sha’Cole), recently approved to live in Bronx Bay. We also meet their freind Izaak (Josiah McCruiston).

Everyone on the stage looks like they belong there, but a stunning revelation threatens friendships, relationships and the tranquility of this new utopia. “People died to make these rules,” Alice reminds the others. But does that make what is happening right?

In the second act, we find ourselves in another imagining of Bronx Bay, a place for families like couples Alice and Jules, and Lorenzo and Izaak. So, how does Yael fit in?

The thesis statement of this absurd drama is literally written on the set pieces: “Blackness Iz Not A Monolith.” The “apologies” of the title allude to the tendency to see a playwright’s telling of a Black experience as “the” Black experience. The five persons we see before us are actually speaking Lynett’s words; so, being Black is the perspective of a young queer African-Latinx woman from California who lives in Arkansas?

To the credit of the writer, as well as McCray and the cast, rather than being confusing – even when going totally meta – this darkly comic journey is entertaining and thought-provoking. There’s even an alternative-history game show.

Scenic Designer Bernie Killian provides an interesting stage for an immersive “in the round” experience. Seating is properly spaced around the stage, however, there is no tent or awning so sunscreen and/or hats are recommended, especially during afternoon performances.

One weekend remains of this World Premiere production, May 28-30, at Fonseca Theatre, 2508 W. Michigan, west of downtown Indianapolis. Tickets and information at fonsecatheatre.org.