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The Oregon Trail

Members say: Funny, Clever, Quirky, Entertaining, Great acting
72
Critics
56
6 reviews
Members
74
56 reviews
 

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.

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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.

 

Cast & Creatives (13)


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Reviews (62)

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews
56
Avg Score

65
Theatermania

"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

35
Time Out New York

“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

65
The New York Times

"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

40
Lighting & Sound America

"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

65
Talkin' Broadway

"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

70
Village Voice

"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

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews
74
Avg Score

78
Ambitious, Clever, Slow

See it if it has closed but partner says 85. I found it too ambitious and fantasy like.

Don't see it if comp.of an 85 and a 70

58
Clever, Slow, Lacks chemistry

See it if You are a fan of old videos games. Are patient with stories that unfold s-l-o-w-l-y.

Don't see it if You are an impatient audience member.

Also I was rooting for this concept and this cast -- but the slow pace and ... Read more Read less

68
Ambitious, Confusing, Disappointing

See it if You want to see everything the Women's Project produces.

Don't see it if You like a crisp, logical story

68
Funny, Ambitious, Clever, Quirky, Slow

See it if You are intrigued by the concept of choosing your destiny and are interested in the subject of depression.

Don't see it if You require elaborate sets to focus your attention on a story line.

35
Banal, Confusing, Disappointing, Amateurish, Bad dialogue

See it if You are looking to see a poorly written badly acted drama to compare with the many worthwhile ones being performed now in NY !

Don't see it if You care about plots that make sense. You are wanting to see new terrific young actors deal with a challenging script. Script/acting bad !

76
Funny, Ambitious, Quirky, Cliched, Slow

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

68
Ambitious, Relevant, Confusing, Disappointing, Slow

See it if Despite an overall muddled feel, Brunstetter's then/now feminism often succeeds Acting is good esp E L Perkins but conceptualization stalls

Don't see it if Contemporary scenes never felt as potent as 1850s ones & lacked a needed punch Difficult to empathize with Vaynberg's malaise (acting?)

100
Clever, Resonant, Entertaining

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.

80
Funny, Ambitious, Great acting, Entertaining, Nostalgic

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.

65
Ambitious, Quirky, Indulgent

See it if This has the potential to shine a light on depression, but the characters never reach their climax where they grow and change.

Don't see it if You are expecting more playfulness from the references to the 90s and the video game for which this play is named

71
Funny, Quirky, Cliched

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.

Also Another play which I felt had excellent promise, but squandered the pr... Read more Read less

54
Stuck-in-the-mud, Promising talent, Nice moments along the way

See it if you want to support a smart theater company and talented young artists. And you can identify with the lead character's depression.

Don't see it if you can't get past an undramatic premise. Emotional stasis isn't very involving & the connection to a hard-scrabble physical trek is rocky.

71
Great staging

See it if You like small ensemble shows dealing with relationships, mental health, and life choices.

Don't see it if you want something as good as The Dudleys!, this doesn't quite hit the mark.

96
Funny, Absorbing, Clever, Delightful, Entertaining

See it if you like very human accurate angst - amusing and clever and so funny.

Don't see it if you like everything linear - although still very easy to follow.

75
Funny, Resonant, Entertaining, Impactful

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.

69
Subject matter/depression or ennui?, Danger of audience falling into the character's rhythms, Some good laughs, Stylish production values, Contrast of life/death 1800s issues with 21st century mental health issues doesn't pay off

See it if want to support new scripts, Fault Line Theatre, & young acting company in a well mounted production including interesting ideas & staging

Don't see it if depression/ennui as subject matter is not your cup of tea, suspension of disbelief with computer gaming as a conduit 2 other worlds

Also ennui = a feeling of utter weariness and discontent resulting from sat... Read more Read less

74
Funny, Quirky, Slow, Entertaining

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

68
Quirky, Slow, Good acting

See it if You are, were, or are responsible for an angst-ridden child of the early 90s, or would enjoy a character study of one.

Don't see it if You don't care about privileged young person problems. You want the show to effectively draw on the computer game in meaningful ways.

40
Excruciating, Insipid, Slow

See it if It was a rough show to get through . I was itching to leave after 15 minutes. Bad script. Poor staging .... I wanted to root for it, but ...

Don't see it if I would not recommend it.

75
Funny, Clever, Quirky, Resonant

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

Also This play employs two parallel story lines - I thought one was signifi... Read more Read less

85
Absorbing, Clever, Nostalgic, Smart, Hopeful

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.

85
Funny, Absorbing, Great acting, Entertaining, Great staging

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

Also I don't now about that video game "The Oregon Trial" but that did not ... Read more Read less

83
Clever, Resonant, Contemporary, Well-written, 1980's and 90's

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.

35
Banal, Disappointing, Cliched

See it if You want a dose of nostalgia.

Don't see it if You would like a play with good writing, characters, or story.

64
Quirky, Indulgent, Disappointing, Great staging

See it if You're a big fan of the game or looking for an exploration of mental illness/related issues.

Don't see it if Your looking for any kind of conclusion or neat answers. You've never heard of the game.

Also This piece was bit of a mess, a bit too all over the place for me. The... Read more Read less