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Review: Scena Theatre's SOMEONE IS GOING TO COME is Paranoid and Provocative

Robert McNamara directs three Scena Theatre veterans in the Washington-area premiere of SOMEONE IS GOING TO COME, Norwegian writer Jon Fosse's absurdist exploration of magnified paranoia. Thanks to excellent acting and attention to detail, the experience is tense, at times grating, and interesting to witness.

McNamara's previous experience with Samuel Beckett's works likely helped him weave that brand of absurdity into this show, in which an odd couple (played by David Bryan Jackson and Nanna Ingvarsson) moves into a remote, decrepit cottage by the sea. It's their long-awaited chance to be alone together, far from all others. But what if... someone comes?

He (Jackson) and She (Ingvarsson) share a quirky, precarious chemistry that floats giddily one moment and is drowned by over-the-top jealousy the next. At first, She is the anxious one, while He assures her (repeatedly, as many of the lines are repeated ad nauseam), that everything is going to be okay. But soon, the roles are reversed when someone does, in fact, come. Once the mysterious Man (Joseph Carlson) is introduced, She seems vaguely interested, and He is convinced that her intentions are romantic.

Ingvarsson's ambiguous facial expressions and meaningful shifts in vocal tone make her character believable but fluid, keeping her loyalties in question. At one point, her exaggerated elation at hearing a knock on the door contrasts brilliantly with Jackson's reaction of sheer terror. Jackson conveys building fear through his heightened expressions (though his intentionally labored breathing becomes tedious after a while). The best scenes are those that incorporate Carlson as Man, the catalyst for the drama. His slow manner of speaking, unplaceable accent, and animal movements are magnetically creepy.

Set designer Michael C. Stepowany has set the stage with vintage artifacts, including shabby old appliances. We can almost smell the musty air. The atmosphere is a strange mix of funny and foreboding: thunderous knocks on the front door keep calling the couple to attention, and upbeat slide guitar interludes separate the scenes (sound designer Denise Rose). Costumes by Alisa Mandel emphasize the cold, barren environment, with everyone dressed in sweaters and coats, even inside the house.

There is never enough comfort for anyone to remove so much as a scarf, because anything could happen at any time. Tensions run high, but not high enough to threaten the infectious levity that makes this production enjoyable.

Running time: approximately 1 hour 5 minutes without an intermission.

Scena Theatre's SOMEONE IS GOING TO COME plays through February 5th, 2017, at the Atlas Performing Arts Center - Lab I, 1333 H St. NE, Washington, DC 20002. Tickets can be purchased at or by calling 202-399-7993.

Photo: Nanna Ingvarsson as She and David Bryan Jackson as He; photo by Jae Yi Photography, courtesy of Scena Theatre.

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From This Author - Barbara Johnson

Barbara Johnson is a Northern Virginia-based young professional with a passion for music and theatre. As a lifelong performing arts enthusiast, she is thrilled to write for and he... (read more about this author)