Another America at Park Theatre - review
Park Theatre celebrates a world premiere
Covid might have delayed the premiere of Another America by a good few months but it's a case of better late than never for American playwright Bill Rosenfield. In his newest work, brothers Dan and Jared, along with their best friend Clint, are basketball obsessives and set out on a bike journey from California to Massachusetts' Basketball Hall of Fame.
It feels as though Another America has been styled as a version of Jack Kerouac's On The Road for the Instagram generation. The trio collect quotes on a basketball from the people they meet along the way, serving as a physical reminder of their trip as they travel east across the country.
The comparison to Kerouac's beloved Beat masterpiece is probably rather disingenuous because what occurs onstage is more akin to a bunch of vaguely connected vignettes than a play with a sense of narrative or any overarching themes. There is likely a type of production where these skits could work quite well in isolation (perhaps on a comedy stage at a smaller fringe festival) but they don't amount to a coherent play in this case. Scenes roll by with nothing at stake and nothing really changes. At the close you feel no different to the beginning, except perhaps wishing you had done something more productive over the last two and a bit hours.
Themes and ideas are name dropped but then disappointingly remain unexplored. When the gang meet a frustrated Gen Z Subway worker who maintains his belief that America is the "number one country in the world" hopes are briefly kindled that this might be a moment where the play reflects on anything from middle America and Trump territory, to the lack of a social welfare net or maybe even an in-cel culture which has had devastatingly violent effects in American society. Sadly just as the employee becomes integrated into the group he disappears again, simply another of the one-dimensional side characters who come on stage and make noise but really don't say much.
In fairness to the cast, they really try their best with the limited material they have at their disposal. It is commendable at the very least that Jacob Lovick, Rosanna Suppa and Marco Young are able to play dozens of characters in a variety of settings, without any real props, and the production does not feel overly forced.
If you're being generous to Another America, you could argue about if there needs to be a wider theme. Is it not enough to say this is a tale about three friends travelling together, a buddy play if you like. Unfortunately this puts into even sharper focus how their adventures aren't particularly interesting or exciting. It doesn't matter whether the group are on a night out in Vegas or getting their bikes fixed, you cant escape the feeling that most of this play is just rather lifeless.