One of life’s lessons is that it’s not predictable. Nor can one be sure what would have happened if certain choices weren’t made.
So it should be no surprise that when playwright Steven Dietz chose to look at those aspects of life in his play “This Random World,” that play wouldn’t have neat, tidy lessons or endings.
“It’s an unusual play in the way it’s structured and the way it defies our expectations,” said Stan Denman, director of the Baylor Theatre production of “This Random World” that opens Tuesday.
The play is roughly centered on a mom near the end of her life, Scottie (played by Denman’s wife Lisa), her daughter Beth (Rachel Cendrick) and son Tim (Noah Alderfer), with other characters who interact with them.
No more than two characters are on stage at one time, however, and much of “This Random World” deals with opportunities missed or unseen as the three look at what’s directly in front of them, whether funeral planning, a recent breakup or contemplation of what lies beyond this life.
“The full title of the play is ‘This Random World, or The Myth of Serendipity,” said Denman. The director saw the play at the Humana Festival of New American Plays in Louisville and his attraction to its themes was heightened when selecting this play late last year as he was contemplating stepping down as Baylor theater department chair after 18 years, a decision he made at the beginning of the year.
Stepping into a future with a little uncertainty made certain lines in the play resonate with Denman, such as when one character observes, “If I had my life to live over again, I would have doubted more.”
Though “This Random World” may not follow a predictable path in its characters’ glancing interactions, it leaves audiences in a positive place, the director said. “There’s something satisfying in resting in that, something satisfying in resting in the unknown,” said Denman.