Ithaka Calling

Rated 2.0 I was invited to review a play written by a 19-year-old in the margins of his theater-history-class notebook. The lengthy e-mail invitation explained that playwright P. Joshua Laskey is now 23 and has spent the last four years bringing his work, Ithaka Calling, to the stage. Laskey wrote that he’s “produced this play from scratch.” He rented the Geery Theater stage, where he’s been “painting and drilling until 2 a.m. every night” on a set designed by a friend. He gathered a bunch of actors with varying stage experience. He even stepped in to direct, at the last minute, after the director became one of the leads. (The original lead bowed out two weeks before the premiere.)

This puts a reviewer in a tight spot: Do you pay attention to the warning flags, or do you give a kid a chance and the exposure he’s asking for? Well, it’s too late for the first option, so let’s concentrate on the second.

Ithaka Calling follows young Kate through a dramatic evening, when she confronts her marriage, her past, her future and an old boyfriend. Laskey brings up some interesting issues: the plight of veterans, marital roles and ivory-tower elitism.

Laskey does hit the pitfalls of many first-time playwrights: two-dimensional characters, too many issues (he also throws in infidelity, gender roles, post-traumatic stress and alcoholism) and dialogue that merely sets up the important statements and speeches.

But I applaud the fact that Laskey has actually written and produced a full-length play, and demonstrated he has the chutzpah and perseverance to see it to stage. Oh, and he has the ability to charm a reviewer into attending.