Are people's lives really predestined, or do they have choices? Playwright Deborah Zoe Laufer explores those questions in "Fortune," receiving its world premiere at Marin Theatre Company. This two-person play features a third-generation fortune teller, Maude (Julia Brothers), and a super-neurotic customer, Jeremy (Darren Bridgett).
The desperate Jeremy goes to Maude, who calls herself Madam Rosa, to find out why he's so alone, why he can't find a serious girlfriend, a soulmate. Although she apparently sees nothing for him, she feels so sorry for him that she tells him he'll meet a redheaded woman at the Promenade in Brooklyn Heights the following Saturday. Thus follows a series of encounters when Maude disguises herself as a redhead, then -- in her Madam Rosa guise -- hears his version of the meeting. Along the way, we see what happens when two people who fear commitment find themselves moving closer to it.
The play offers plenty of laughs, especially since Bridgett and Brothers are such gifted comic actors. Brothers is especially fine in her various disguises, but director Lee Sankowich allows Bridgett to go over the top with Jeremy's physical reactions and whining. Consequently, the play comes across more as a sitcom than as the story of two lonely people taking chances.
Cassandra Carpenter's costumes, especially Madam Rosa's colorful robes, are marvelous. Steven Coleman provides the flexible set, accented by Jaymi Lee Smith's lighting. Norman Kern's sound design features a powerful thunderstorm as well as beach sounds.
Laufer hit it big with "The Last Schwartz" for MTC in 2003, but she isn't quite as lucky with "Fortune."
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