Indiana Repertory Theater, Upperstage;
through Feb. 27
Directed by Larissa Kokernot. As a man
nervously waits out the months before the birth of his first child,
he distracts himself by researching, of all things, a horrific
Vietnam War protest act that occurred decades earlier.
The man is playwright Ken Weitzman and
his one-man play, the second in IRT’s Going Solo festival,
follows his attempt to understand what drove Quaker Norman Morrison
to set himself on fire outside the Pentagon in 1965, with his
one-year-old daughter looking on.
Most of the 90-minute monologue is a
thoughtful and funny internal discussion about what makes a man
despair for his generation, what makes him die for it and what
convinces him to live. Although Weitzman is deeply troubled himself
about impending environmental catastrophe, we feel him embrace life
with descriptions of hypno-birthing, sleep deprivation and a baby who
shows his glee by swinging his arm over his head like a rodeo rider.
As the cynical, self-deprecating
playwright, Ryan Artzberger (A Christmas Carol, Rabbit Hole)
pulls us in and paces himself well until the last third, when the
playwright’s tone becomes increasingly pedantic. I’m
betting on Artzberger’s endurance, if not the script, to
improve over time. No matter what, Fire in the Garden delivers
a solid hour of highly original thought.