“The Oregon Trail” by Bekah Brustetter strikes the perfect balance of drama and comedy to depict how depression can affect every facet of someone’s life.
This dramedy weaves together one girl’s journey through puberty and adulthood while playing a video game, “The Oregon Trail.” And The Game isn’t passive. He’s an interactive character who, for better or worse, is there to guide her.
As Now Jane navigates life while playing “The Oregon Trail,” The Game presents her with choices – not just for the game, but for real life as well. But making choices is difficult for Now Jane because of her undiagnosed depression. While she struggles through life and the game, she imagines her great-great-grandmother, Then Jane, struggling as she trudges along the Oregon Trail in 1848. These two story lines alternate until they finally intersect when The Game’s ability to move forward and backward in time allow the two Jane’s to meet.
Comic relief Kyle Sinclair steals the show as The Game. Kaira Hensler, Now Jane, makes the plights of someone suffering depression understandable for those who are not afflicted. Cassie Fastabend shows range as she plays two characters – Now Jane’s sister, Mary Anne and Then Jane’s sister, Mary Anne. Taylor Davis’ portrayal of Then Jane reminds us how much more difficult life on the Oregon Trail would have been for anyone with a disability.
Refresh your memory about the Oregon Trail by reading the posters in the lobby. A history of the video game is there, too. Concessions are available including snacks, soft drinks, beer and wine. A mixed concoction, the Prairie Breeze, is also available featuring Blackfish Sweet Tea, a tea infused whisky.
Centerstage Theater is located in Federal Way just minutes off I-5. “The Oregon Trail” runs Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through Sunday, Sept. 11. Due to some content, the show is recommended for ages 16 and up.
Laura Barfield has worked in early childhood education and has been published in multiple issues of Kids Imagination Train. She also has a theater background in both acting and directing. She lives in the Seattle area with her husband, two sons, and one labradoodle.