Ah, the ’50s. That fabled time when the United States was at the height of its affluence and power, and everyone who lived here was happy and middle-class. Except for those who were members of a minority, or gay, or leftist, or poor, or unconventional. In Jordan Harrison’s play, Maple and Vine, Katha and Ryu find themselves miserable in their tech-filled, hard-charging, contemporary lives and seize on the opportunity to return to that distant time — a time evoked by conservative politicians with such deep nostalgia.
Chip Walton of Curious Theatre Company saw the play’s premiere at the Humana Festival in 2010 and — true to his company’s mission of bringing provocative new works to Denver — resolved to produce it. He says he’s intrigued by the way it dissects nostalgia. Most of us feel occasionally that we’re living in the wrong place and time, he points out, and Maple and Vine “asks some really interesting questions about our relationship to the present moment and the past.” It contrasts the limitlessness of our contemporary world with the limitations of previous times, he says: The modern age can be both exhilarating and overwhelming, the rigid limits set during other eras freeing as well as constricting. The ’50s becomes a lens to examine race, gender and technology as the play asks, “Would you really be happier if you could go back?”
Maple and Vine opens tonight at 8 p.m. at Curious, 1080 Acoma Street, and continues through February 23; for tickets, $18 to $44, visit www.curioustheatre.org or call 303-623-0524.
Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m. Starts: Jan. 12. Continues through Feb. 23, 2013