PRINCETON, NJ - Three long-time friends gather at a cabin in the woods in this startling original play by Rachel Bonds. Borrowing from the children’s story, “Goodnight Moon,” the play explores the fraught lives of those trying to reconnect.
We learn that Nan is an artist, who one summer had an affair in the cabin, with Mara, Reggie’s mother. That immediately sets up tensions when she and a friend arrive unexpectedly on a cold winter evening.
The cast brings it all together with conviction and disturbing admissions. Saamer Usmani is the handsome artist, who also has devastating insights to those around him. Reggie (Nate Miller) is a stand-up comic who has a distant relationship with his mother. The lovely Mara is played by Dana Delany. She brings along Bo (Ken Marks), an older man who is now her companion. In contrast to her, we have the young K (Ariel Woodiwiss) who has a six-month-old son, left at home with the father.
The most devastating scene occurs late in the play when they gather for a bonfire in the woods. Soon tensions rise as truths are revealed and plenty of blame in what’s gone wrong among these relationships. Nan makes some strange references to Frank Baum’s “The Wizard of Oz” and the brokenness he sees in his own life and the lives of his friends. Reggie is especially upset about Nan’s love for Mara, saying she cycles through boyfriends and their relationship meant nothing.
Tyne Rafaeli has directed this sober, challenging play with strong pacing and pulsing uncertainty. When Nan goes off for a chilly swim, saying something along the lines of ‘I’m leaving forever,’ we don’t know whether it’s some sort of warning.
Kimie Nishikawa’s rugged set, transforming from the interior farmhouse to woodland, conveys the mood of deepening emotions. Lighting by Jen Schriever and music by Daniel Kluger add to the growing unrest among the group.
“Goodnight Nobody” continues at the Berlind Theatre in the McCarter Theatre Center through Feb. 9. For tickets, call 844-499-0318 or visit mccarter.org.