If 2009’s Slipping was playwright Daniel Talbott’s bid for Rebel Without a Cause angst, then his latest work, Yosemite, seems to be going for the chilly pallor of Winter’s Bone—that is, if said mountain terrain just happened to have a Mickey D’s in its foothills. A surly brother (Seth Numrich) and affectless sister (Libby Woodbridge), with their mousy, distracted younger brother (Noah Galvin), hike into the sinister woods to dig a hole deep enough to properly bury their baby brother, who has died of crib death—all while awaiting the arrival of their emotionally disturbed mom (Kathryn Erbe).
One wishes there were more to relay about this tale, but there really isn’t. Most of the play’s 75-minute running time is devoted to remembrances by the characters—nearly all of pulled from the same turgid dysfunctional-family vat—while Numrich’s character digs and digs and digs. Pedro Pascal’s direction offers no surprises, so the viewer’s attention wanes, noting such things as the outrageous use of expletives—the word “fuck” pops up no less than 148 times. And despite Erbe’s authentically haunted presence, the actors don’t mine much from the material other than a strained huffiness. When a gun appears in the proceedings midway, it represents less a symbol of impending tension and more a sigh of relief that something might actually happen. Wishful thinking.