Set in wealthy Belle Meade, Fire on Flaming Roads, shows the dark and occasionally comic side of what sometimes happens with those who grow up in affluence and privilege. Four young adults, friends since childhood apparently, hang out on the roof of Jake's house, or rather his parent's house, where they smoke marijuana, drink beer, and pass the time talking about whatever distractions, interruptions, or entertainments have come their way recently. None express any hint of career, education, spiritual, or personal aspirations in life that we can discern.
Jake is an extrovert who reeks of entitlement and arrogance. He is rude and crude. Dylan is Jake's close buddy--a schlemiel of sorts, whose manner of dress is an insult to fashion. Sam is a bit stoic. The lone female, Tony, obviously feels comfortable hanging out with these guys, but she has a little more self-efficacy than they do and is more self-contained.
From the rooftop, off in the distance, they notice a huge fire burning along a highway. Over time, they become more concerned about the fire, and they try and find out some news about it. Dylan expresses the most curiosity, which acts as a foil to Jake's strident apathy about anything to do with the fire or anything in life other than hedonistic pleasures. Ominously, they discover that their portable radio has failed, as well as their cell phones and T.V. The profluence of the play comes from their attempts to deal with the uncertainty, worry, and fear that the fire increasingly evokes in them.
Near the beginning, Tony is reading a book, and she suddenly reads a passage out loud, paraphrasing it in terms of terror, in response to the fuming fire on the road---a sign of an imagination and alert intelligence on her part. Not too surprisingly, she emerges as the conscience of the group. As we might expect from these slackers, most of the conversation consists of short, elemental utterances punctuated with the standard vulgarities. But in mid-play, Tony suddenly delivers a long, articulate, lecture to Dylan saying, among other things, that people will not change unless they become completely destroyed and they have no other choice.
From Jake, we learn enough about his life off from the roof. We learn everything we need to know about Dylan just from seeing him and hearing him talk. The way Tony and Sam carry themselves is excellent, but both characters would benefit from an additional detail or two about them. The build-up of tension with respect to the fire is not quite dramatic enough, but the foreshadowing and the ending worked well. This is the first script from playwright Daniel Hainsworth. It is well-constructed in a dramatic and literary sense, and I am looking forward to his next production.
Company: The Untitled Theatre Collective / http://untitledtheatreny.wix.com/home
Producer: Carly J. Bauer and the United Theatre Collective
Cast: Matt Giroveanu (Jake), Shawn Ferrier (Dylan), Kyle Mumford (Sam), Mary Caitlin Kelly (Tony)
Fire on Flaming Roads: Dec. 10, 11, 13, 17, 18, 19, 20.
Arthur Seelen Theatre -- basement of the Drama Book Shop
250 W. 40th St.; New York, NY 10018
The event is not wheel chair accessible and requires going down a flight of stairs.
Running Time: 1 hour
Tickets: $12.00 / https://www.eventbrite.com/e/fire-on-flaming-roads-tickets-19150655125