Fault Line Theatre presents a play that contrasts the trials of an adolescent girl growing up in the late '90s with her 19th-century video game counterpart. More…
It’s 1997. Alone in her computer lab, 13-year-old Jane escapes from the awkward throes of puberty by virtually jumping in a covered wagon headed west on "The Oregon Trail." Under the guidance of the all-powerful Voice of the Game, we watch "Then Jane" navigate the perils of 1850s frontier life, while '90s Jane navigates the different but all-too-real dangers of high school, college, and, eventually, adulthood. Jane soon finds herself in her 20s, unemployed and battling an undefinable lifelong sadness she cannot name, even as “Then Jane” continues to face the tribulations of the trail. With nearly two centuries between them, both Janes face hardships that seem impossible to overcome—until they find one another.
"Brunstetter explores how depression is carried in these women’s bodies and how they articulate that sorrow in their respective eras. Their shared despondence resonates at times, though in this production, the 1800’s segments never feel as sharply drawn as the contemporary scenes...When the play clicks it's engaging, but that fascination can ebb and flow, and the themes tend to circle the wagon without gaining depth. But there is a sincerity and warmth to these young women." Full Review
"A feisty, formally inventive comedy...Ms. Brunstetter has scripted earlier plays...'The Oregon Trail' is a great improvement, particularly in its nifty first half-hour. In Ms. Vaynberg’s expressive hands, contemporary Jane’s sly humor and cringing embarrassment feel wonderfully real and raw, horrible and funny...The play makes a forward leap to Jane’s thwarted adulthood and becomes a more formulaic piece...The language in the 1840s scenes starts to irk, as do the sorrows of present-day Jane." Full Review
"The subject is heady, and for a good chunk of the play, 'The Oregon Trail' delivers both a nuanced portrait of depression and a gently humanized vision of a game where, for the most part, the main goal was to kill weary travelers from typhoid...Yet 'The Oregon Trail' also never feels as fully fleshed out as it should be, with the sequences in the 1800s particularly shortchanged toward the end. Director Geordie Broadwater has a strong vision, though." Full Review
"There's much that's good about 'The Oregon Trail.' Broadwater's staging is incisive, funny, and quick-moving. The physical production...is spot-on for both eras. And with the exception of Arturo...the acting is well pitched with the writing. Still, Brunstetter's writing and conceptualization could be sharper, and, as witty as the references to it are, the game is more of a diversionary tactic than a fully integrated storytelling mechanism." Full Review
"Depression is not an easy state to dramatize, and, in any case, Jane comes off as a pill—whiny, narcissistic, a perpetual victim...The fact remains that Jane's depression is presented without any insight and we are led to believe that her sufferings are equal to those of Then Jane, a notion that would be laughable if it weren't so grating...Brunstetter is a talent to watch, but this 'Oregon Trail,' I'm afraid, leads to a dramatic dead end." Full Review
“A sour, low-stakes comedy…Beyond scratching a specific nostalgic itch, the play offers few rewards…Jane's not really functioning, yet throughout the show's 90 minutes of self-destruction and indulgent passivity, neither she nor her doctor sister brings up therapy or medication. Whether Brunstetter is making a point about generational malaise or actual illness, she's spent too little time speculating on a cure.” Full Review
See it if You like solid scripts and strong performances. You can relate to feeling aimless as a young adult. You played Oregon Trail as a kid.
Don't see it if You're looking for nothing but comedy. The show has some very funny moments, but also some lovely and poignant ones.
See it if You grew up playing the video game, you are interested in the struggle to find the right path to follow in life.
Don't see it if You don't enjoy whimsy, nostalgia, or millennial existential crises.
See it if You're in need of a reunion with your formative years that reminds you who you value and that you do in fact love who you've become.
Don't see it if You'd just as soon leave the 90s and all reminders they happened behind you; you don't like parallel plot structure or strong female leads.
See it if you appreciate contemporary stories of young people struggling in life but trying to forge ahead, with humor and heart.
Don't see it if you have no connection to the old computer game, in which case some of the references might fly past you.
See it if You want to laugh. You want to go on a journey with a young lady as she is coming of age and the the trials that life brings.
Don't see it if You are not interested in the journey of life that a young lady experiences. You don't want to laugh. You don't like non linear plays
See it if you might enjoy a well-acted, original modern coming-of-age play about a depressed teenage girl who learns how to cope.
Don't see it if you don't like non-linear story lines that go back and forth in time about sensitive female characters!
See it if You're interested in a teenage girl's struggles with social anxiety and depression. Pairs well in subject matter with DEAR EVAN HANSEN.
Don't see it if You're not interested in plays examining mental health. You have no familiarity with playing THE OREGON TRAIL video game.
See it if you are a 90s kid who wants to reminisce and don't mind some suburban angst.
Don't see it if the story of a privilege white surbanite trying to find herself while struggling with mental illness will make you angry.
See it if you like poignant comedy, have ever felt lost/sad in your life, played the Oregon Trail computer game :)
Don't see it if you're looking for flashy...this is raw, visceral, simple.
See it if you like female written plays, a relevant and refreshing way at looking at depression, quirky text and solid acting from young ensemble
Don't see it if you don't know like shows without an intermission, a predictable storyline or didn't care for the Oregon Trail game growing up
See it if You played Oregon Trail as a kid, like nostalgia, are struggling with where your life may be going
Don't see it if you are expecting fancy sets and costumes, you didn't play the game, you don't like experimental shows
See it if you're a Bekah Brubaker fan, enjoy stories of women empowering themselves and finding their purpose, like plays set in 2 time periods
Don't see it if you expect realism and are not a fan of whimsy, unwilling to look beneath a character's outward actions, not a fan of subtle, quirky comedy
See it if you want to see a well-crafted coming of age dramedy. Or if you're an older millennial looking for a nostalgic theatrical experience
Don't see it if you're looking for something more high-brow or existential. This is a plot-driven, accessible show.
See it if You like shows that play with time; you enjoy plays about contemporary life; you played the Oregon Trail computer game
Don't see it if You're not interested in stories about young women; you're expecting something grand in scope; you need high stakes
See it if You enjoyed the game as a child, or were a youth in the 90's- a nice bit of flashback to the era and the age of awkwardness
Don't see it if You did not enjoy the game, or plays with dual story lines- two separate stories a couple hundred years apart
See it if you have suffered from depression and grew up in the 90s. You like plays that stage multiple timelines simultaneously (e.g., Indian Ink).
Don't see it if you don't care about a whiny teenager's pseudo-problems or dysentery.
See it if 90s nostalgia is your thing. If you enjoy shows with deep hidden life questions. You enjoy plays with a message.
Don't see it if You don't enjoy thought provoking works that may have meaning's that don't immediately display themselves. You want something super light.
Get alerts about your favorite artists and theater companies