Review: Happy Armenians

“Wanna wear my crown?”

“Wanna wear my crown?”

Photo courtesy of Vista Players

Happy Armenians; 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday; $15-$20. Vista Players at California Stage Company, Wilkerson Theatre, 2509 R Street; (916) 451-5822; Through February 28.
Rated 4.0

History can be fickle—any one alteration, whether it be slight or substantial, changes the future forever, with repercussions all along the way. Playwright Aram Kouyoumdjian embraces this notion in his innovative new play Happy Armenians by adding another layer—that there are alternative, parallel universes, where different outcomes coexist.

In this creative concept, there are two outcomes for Armenia—the present day one in which the country lives under the darkened shadows of a failed kingdom, the victim of a devastating genocide; and another one as a flourishing 600-year-old empire that dominates the world. These two parallel worlds intersect when a present-day young Armenian is transported from his teaching job in Los Angeles to the alternate Armenian world to become heir apparent to the king.

The imaginative plot demands the audience take a huge leap of faith and suspension of disbelief, but Kouyoumdjian pulls it off with enough believable explanations, interesting new historical concepts, a bit of humor and compelling characters, including the confused teacher Levon (Daniel Hubbard), the court steward Patrick (Tavis L. Baker) the dying king (Gregory DePetro), his queen (Jade Hykush) and the court’s scientist and physician (and Levon’s love interest), Siran (Heather Lynn Smith).

The minimalistic stage, futuristic uniforms, compelling original music by Ara Dabandjian and a nod to scientific and physics advancements give the play a slight Star Trek quality, which endear the quirky story to the audience.