Ryan Is Lost

by Liz Richards · August 17, 2014

If only Vladimir and Estragon had cell phones. Would they have found Godot faster?

Ryan is Lost strands Avis and Frank in their local mall, waiting for their sister's son who’s nowhere to be found. Avis has decided they should wait at their predesignated meeting bench, and wait they do. Time passes, the mall closes- for the night or for good?, nobody comes, nobody goes. As they wait, they begin to question their roles within their family and the world at large. They're a couple of slackers who suddenly want to take action, but can't. And Ryan’s mother keeps calling… 

Nathan Wellman's dialogue zips along like the best game of ping pong. The script aims for absurdism and mostly succeeds, especially with the help of both subtle and overt references to Waiting for Godot and Rosencrantz & Guildenstern are Dead. I enjoyed the weirdness as Avis and Frank argued about where Ryan could be, how old he is, and even who is the worse person. The last third of the show also introduces a litany of sins, including rape, incest, and domestic abuse; in a longer show, I imagine these would have been explored more, but in a show that runs a little under an hour, they feel tacked-on. However, as the play goes on, the outside world becomes more realistic and the situation, now placed in a real-world scenario, starts to lose its legs. If the phone works, and people can call in and out, and they could physically leave at any time (Frank seems ready to hit the food court and go home), why stay? I wondered why real-life rules didn't apply to them, too.

The play is at its best when it explores the relationship between these adult siblings. They're friends who know each other’s' crippling weaknesses and how to exploit them, but there's a tenderness, too, especially in their bond against the pulled-together sister and her perfect family. Brittany Allen is all birdlike energy as Avis, racing back and forth across the stage, afraid to call (or just afraid of?) the police. David Haverty's Frank is more grounded, perhaps from all the booze. They are a solid comedic duo with excellent timing; two terrible people gleefully wallowing in their own inertia.





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