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Critique: A Sudden Spontaneous Event

KACTF -Theatre Review by Carlos Eton

(STX, February 8, 2022).-There are two types of plays: ones that are so poorly produced and excruciatingly painful to watch that simultaneously undergoing root canals and colonoscopies would be preferable … and ones that move us so deeply that we are bursting at the seams to share that joy of theater with everyone, even those who claim they hate the theatre. This reporter is delighted to say that the College of Charleston production of “” directed by Paul Rolfe, not only falls in the latter category of profound theater but is also a spectacular play that will inspire even the most reluctant theatre goer to love theatre.

Rolfe takes David Lee Nelson’s piece and uniquely blends comedy, drama, and suspense in a way that emotionally inspires the audience to join the characters in their quest for answers: of life, death, love, God, regret, and second chances.

Our journey begins with the very colorful Carole (Joy Vandervort-Cobb) as she waits in a colorless waiting room. She doesn’t know why she’s there and the attending receptionist is not forthcoming with any information. Eventually, Carole is joined by Wilfred (Alex Gilbert), her guardian angel, who discloses that she is in a coma following a stroke,

Even more shocking, the angle informs a bewildered Carole that, on her behalf, he will plead with God to determine her final destination: heaven or hell, which is akin to watching QVC for eternity. Apparently, Carole’s case file has been flagged for review and approval by God Almighty, who by the way is a female.

During their initial conversations, Carole attempts to justify to Wilfred her neglect of family matters in pursuit of a legal career. Wilfred then presses her further to consider the consequences of her choices, especially in regard to George (Gee Barber) her adult son, who she abandoned when he was five in exchange for a highly successful legal career.  George, is completely oblivious to a woman, Claire, played by Leah Van Horn, who has serious feelings for him and is in fact, infatuated.

God’s judgment forces Carole to return to earth, with limited communication capabilities, as a result of the stroke to remedy the dysfunction and regrets that Carole’s choices, throughout her lifetime, have caused.

Thank God in Her infinite wisdom!

Director Rolfe expertly avoids the cliches that would make this a predictable Hallmark movie. Thank God in Her infinite wisdom! Despite the underlying serious themes in the play, Rolfe brings out the humor, irony, drama, and joy that inheres in the play—and our lives.

But it isn’t just the director that makes this a play for all of us to enjoy—the production features powerful artistic performances, as well. Veterans Joy Vandervort-Cobb and Alex Gilbert provide exciting and spirited deliveries supported by strong by Gee Barber, Leah VanHorn, Tyler Crean (Stan), and Aidan Wunderley (the lobby receptionist).

It is usually frowned upon for journalists and critics to gush over a theater performance—but this reporter is going to do it anyway!

The College of Charleston’s production of “A Sudden Spontaneous Event” is simply a remarkable production. If you enjoy theater, then this play is a must-see If you have friends that occasionally frequent theater productions, bring them with you. If you have friends that think theater is pretentious, then definitely bring them with you.

Heck, even if space aliens visit our planet, they should see it too!

This reporter is going to view it again.

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