Second Stage Uptown's Wildflower Fails to Blossom
The pollen is abundant in Crested Butte, "the wildflower capital of Colorado" and the site of various awkward couplings in Lila Rose Kaplan's galumphing coming-of-age drama Wildflower. The newly separated Erica (Nadia Bowers) has arrived at a quaint bed-and-breakfast with her maladroit 16-year-old son, Randolph (Jake O'Connor), in search of serenity, but the riot of flowers in full bloom all over the back wall gives an indication that the birds and the bees have tagged along.
Sure enough, Randolph is soon warding off (and sporadically inviting) the attentions of the seemingly sexually precocious Astor (Renée Felice Smith), while Erica does the same with the seemingly sexually voracious forest ranger, James (Quincy Dunn-Baker). Erica confides in Randolph, who, in turn, unburdens himself in a series of monologues to a pot of wolfsbane ("You have to be calm to grow. . . . No one will transplant you. I promise"). All the while, the gay B&B owner (a woefully under-used Ron Cephas Jones) gazes indulgently at the confused straight people, stopping occasionally to pull out a pair of feather boas from the pantry drawer.
This all sounds more subversive and Lynchian than it really is. Not even director Giovanna Sardelli's no-nonsense pacing can mask the tin-eared quality of lines like, "What part of 'I don't want to go, I don't want to go, I don't want to go' did you not understand?" The exception to the play's overall lassitude comes in the last five minutes, when a drastic about-face sends the play into decidedly choppier waters. The initial jolt offered by this final twist, though, is quickly tempered by the realization that it's no less trite and underdeveloped—well, maybe a little less underdeveloped—than the 70 prosaic minutes that led up to it.
By Lila Rose Kaplan
Broadway at 76th Street, 212-246-4422
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