A Parallelogram is a brilliantly mind-boggling play by Bruce Norris that asks a bunch of existentially provocative questions. Among them: “If you knew in advance exactly what was going to happen in your life, and how everything was going to turn out, and if you knew you couldn’t do anything to change it, would you still want to go on with your life?"
And, if you could effect change by being “nice” and telling everyone just what he wanted to hear, would you want to do it?
And if you could effect change would it make any difference or would things simply turn out the way they were meant to in the first place?
And finally, is our heroine really dealing with a crone from the future, or is she talking to herself?
Would you believe this is a love story?
Or rather, he is in love with her---he’s left his wife and two kids for her---but she is preoccupied with playing solitaire and listening to tales of the future from an older woman that nobody else can hear. A woman with a clicker that can recharge time so you can relive a moment over and over until you get it right. An ever more phantasmagorical Ground Hog’s Day.
The man who loves her is delightfully played by Tom Irwin on the edge of apoplexy and the young woman is a cool Marin Ireland. The old crone is a hilarious Marylouise Burke, and there is a Spanish-speaking gardener played by Carlo Alban who participates in confusing everyone and falling in love with our heroine.
The whole production is beautifully directed by Anna D. Shapiro, who has worked on many of Norris’ previous plays, many of which were premiered at the Steppenwolf Theatre in Chicago.
The production qualities are also wonderful: the rotating set by Todd Rosenthal, the sound design, most notably the sounds of the time clicker, by Rob Milburn and Michael Bodeen, and the lighting design by James F. Ingalls are all exceptionally effective.
To tell you more would spoil the twists and turns of the plot, but there’s a possibly significant clue in the program’s list of characters. Look it up and do the math.
A Parallelogram will continue Tuesdays through Fridays at 8 p.m., Saturdays at 2:30 and 8 p.m., and Sundays at 1 and 6:30 p.m. through August 18th at the Mark Taper Forum, 135 N. Grand Ave., at the Music Center in Los Angeles. Call 213-628-2772 for tickets