In Off the Wall Productions’ world premiere of Andrea Lepcio’s Tunnel Vision, the premise is simple enough. Two women arrive in an abandoned, junk-filled tunnel; neither knows how she got there, and though both try repeatedly to escape, there is no easy way out. To complicate matters, the women are photo negatives of one another. Jill (Lisa Ann Goldsmith) is a childish dreamer who lets passion guide her, while Olexzandra (Elizabeth Ruelas) seemingly “got the memo” on how to build a proper life: She’s an austere and successful doctor with a husband, two children and a third on the way. However, for all their differences, both women harbor painful secrets, and before it’s over, they realize that to break free from the past, they must plow through the truth.
Thanks to Maddie Bucci’s scenic design, the tunnel itself is deceptively simple; the only accoutrements are dozens of items that would be at home in a flea market, including a pink bicycle Jill rides gleefully around the stage as she avoids Olexzandra’s sometimes exasperated glare. Alone and trapped, the women finally find common ground, and one by one, items — and secrets — are unpacked. Though an unlikely pair, Jill and Olexzandra forge a relationship that is at times as contentious as it is ardent. They confide, they cajole and they criticize, until at last each one breaks down and confesses why she was running from her life. Playwright Lepcio’s dialogue alternates between heartfelt confessions and irreverent witticisms. While not all the jokes are equally convincing, the performances by Goldsmith and Ruelas, along with Melissa Maxwell’s razor-sharp direction, help to anchor this story of loss and self-discovery.
For all its lofty ambitions, Tunnel Vision is a brief play, clocking in at less than 90 minutes. Although a longer running time might have allowed the dynamic between Jill and Olexzandra to flourish even more, the story still manages to pack quite the wallop. While it’s billed as a tale that is uniquely feminine, anyone who’s ever felt adrift in a life no longer his or her own should be able to find something to love about this production.