Are you ready to give up portobello mushrooms, focaccia bread, sushi, lattes, your smartphone? If so, I know the perfect place, a Midwest gated community known as the Society of Dynamic Obsolescence (SDO) that strives for authenticity from 1955. Long gone are the days of connecting with each other via social media. At the SDO, social networking is having smart dinner parties and a good game of charades, accompanied by strong drinks and cigarettes.
Maple and Vine offers a look into what life would be like without all the modern amenities. Katha and her Japanese-American husband, Ryu, give up urban living and their successful, yet unfulfilling, careers for a simpler life with fewer distractions. As they transition into their new 1950s roles, they are mentored by SDO recruiter Dean and his wife Ellen, who have taken on the personas of Ward and June Cleaver. They have perfected their dossier to a T so that it’s hard not to like them as they sell the SDO to potential recruits, the audience.
Katha, now known as Kathy, a more appropriate 1950s name, spends her days learning how to cook and become the ideal wife. Ryu performs his mundane job at the box factory while tolerating the animosity towards him for being Japanese, even though he is from Long Beach, California. As time goes by, Ryu and Kathy become more comfortable living in a community where discrimination and repression are the norm. For some reason they seem to think this is less complicated than their modern life. Even Dean and Ellen have their own marital secrets, which adds a surprising twist and another layer to the plot of living an authentic life.
This black comedy by playwright Jordan Harrison makes you wonder: have we regressed in our social interactions and communications while progressing in acceptance of race, gender, lifestyle, views and opinions? And how much is one willing to sacrifice to live the “perfect” life? I believe we are heading in the right direction, so let’s keep evolving for the better. Plus, I would be tired and lost without my latte and smartphone.
The cast was fantastic, especially Amanda Sitton (Ellen). Bravo!