The night before her birthday, a woman receives a bizarre phone call at work saying “Karen, you are in terrible danger.”
The mysterious warning throws her down a rabbit hole of midlife crisis packed with vivid characters, strange coincidences and baffling scenarios.
Written and directed by Gregory S. Moss, “Karen” opens at the Tricklock Performance Laboratory on Thursday, Sept. 19. It runs through Sept. 22.
Performed by an all-female cast of five, “Karen” chronicles a woman’s midlife crisis in a dream-like comedy.
“It’s grappling with that moment when you lose a parent; that’s the spine of it;” said Moss, an associate professor of theater and dance at the University of New Mexico, “How the world changes once that buffer is gone.”
Karen’s mother is dying, a loss that propels her to look beyond her placid life. Now in her mid-40s, she’s faced with fewer choices: whether to have children or change careers, and hovering on the cusp of mortality.
“It’s that idea of what you didn’t get to do; feeling like you are no longer immortal or impervious to physical pain,” Moss said. “There’s the person you’ve been. You have to find a new story.”
The choice of an all-female ensemble was deliberate, Moss said.
“It’s a story about women, and as a male writer, I wanted that perspective. I think we’ve seen a lot of male midlife crises stories in the movies and not so much female. It’s also a way to put my own feelings about aging into a story. Most of my early mentors and theater people I’ve grown up with and admired are women.”
The play also marks the debut of No Fixed Address, Moss’ micro-theater company, developed to produce original scripts in collaboration with local artists and theater companies.
Moss is a writer, teacher and performer from Newburyport, Massachusetts. His plays include “Indian Summer,” “punkplay,” “Reunion,” “Billy Witch,” “House of Gold” and “sixsixsix.”
He also heads the UNM MFA Dramatic Writing Program.