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‘Curve of Departure’ explores family dynamics in its world premiere at South Coast Repertory

‘Curve of Departure’ explores family dynamics in its world premiere at South Coast Repertory
South Coast Repertory presents the world premiere of “Curve of Departure” by Rachel Bonds and directed by Mike Donahue. The cast, from left, is Allan Miller, Kim Staunton, Larry Powell and Christian Barillas. (Photo by Danielle Bliss / South Coast Repertory)

Every family has a dynamic.

In her new play, "Curve of Departure," author Rachel Bonds delves into how families are influenced by the personalities of each member, cultural backgrounds, values and personal or family experiences.

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Ascribed characteristics, creative conflict and family secrets are just a few of the resonant issues Bonds explores in her work, which is making its world premiere at South Coast Repertory until Oct. 15.

"I was interested in looking at a family that didn't necessarily look like a traditional family," Bonds said by phone. "The idea of an American family is in flux. There's a new fabric."

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The four characters are in New Mexico for a funeral, marking the premature death of a family member. The drama follows the people at a crossroads in their lives as they gather before the funeral of a man that three of them loved, but didn't like.

Bonds, whose plays include "Sundown, Yellow Moon," "The Wolfe Twins" and "Swimmers," has had works developed or produced by South Coast Repertory.

She returns to South Coast Repertory with "Curve of Departure," her second production at the Costa Mesa theater after its 2014 world premiere of "Five Mile Lake."

Before "Five Mile Lake" opened, SCR had commissioned Bonds to write a new play, which resulted in "Curve of Departure."

She was a recipient of a 2017 Edgerton Foundation New Play Award, a program that enables plays to extend productions after their world premieres. Many of the Edgerton Award recipients have gone on to Broadway productions.

Bonds had seen New York-based director Mike Donahue's work and asked for him to direct her new production.

Donahue, whose credits include world premieres of Matthew Lopez's "The Legend of Georgia McBride," Jen Silverman's "Phoebe in Winter," "The Moors" and Ethan Lipton's "Red-Handed Otter," said he had known of Bonds' work for some time.

"I thought there was a real understanding of precision, humanity and timing to the play with a lot of subtext," Donahue said of "Curve of Departure." "I got a draft and it was so clear and felt so specific and effusive and she said, 'That's my first draft.' That play had happened all so fast."

Bonds said the family drama does have its surprisingly funny moments while the characters face difficult choices and complicating factors.

"We will do our best to deliver a story we find satisfying in the most elegant way we can and the resonances will be for different reasons," Bonds said.

"It's almost like a painting — I can't determine what audiences will take away, but there's a message of being a parent or a child and letting go," Bonds said. "There's truth in that."

If You Go

What: "Curve of Departure"

When: Till Oct. 15; show times vary

Where: South Coast Repertory, 655 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa

Information: (714) 708-5555 or visit scr.org.

Twitter: @KathleenLuppi

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