“Gifted,” a Sacred Fools production having its premiere at the Broadwater Black Box, is a far-fetched play that occasionally diverges into the twee. But Bob DeRosa’s modern-day fairy tale is undeniably diverting, with well-drawn characters, mordant humor and propulsive dialogue that skitters past the silliness of the plot.
The unlikely premise concerns Ash (Kacie Rogers), whose singular “gift” is her psychic ability to assess the romantic fate of any couple she sees, even in passing. As much a curse as a blessing, her powers doom her to a lonely life, haunted by visions of heartbreak, with only sporadic glimpses of true love.
Ash, whose premonitory capacities don’t extend to her own relationships, appears to find an ideal new boyfriend, the charming Randy (Ross Philips). Things look up for Ash when she’s invited to join a support group for similarly gifted individuals, each possessing some sort of psychic power. Most of the powers are innocuous (and somewhat ludicrous) in nature, such as the ability to ascertain the color of someone’s underwear or suss out directions without looking at a map.
Ash, though, has spent her life facing the explosive consequences of her revelations, which once again seem likely to shatter her chances for true intimacy and lasting friendships.
If that sounds a bit over the top, it is. But director Rebecca Larsen and an energetic cast invest the proceedings with a naturalism that renders the most improbable situations comprehensible. Matt Richter’s lighting and Jaime Robledo’s sound are first-rate, while Tavi Stutz’s choreography is indispensable to Larsen’s fluid and imaginative staging, which uses dance to underscore emotional interchanges.
The linchpin of this talented cast, Rogers effectively underplays what could have been an off-the-wall caricature. It’s a challenging role that she tackles without a hint of strain.
Although it sometimes strains credulity, “Gifted” succeeds as a theatrical curiosity that piques our interest — and our sense of whimsy.
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