As any college student could tell you, choosing what you’re going to do with the rest of your life is probably the most stressful decision you will ever have to make. You might think you know what things you like, but doubt creeps in. Will physics hold your interest for all the coming decades? Is that theater degree going to seem ludicrous five years down the line? It’s a question that looms large over every undecided undergraduate: How do I know that I’m ready? Miami Theater Center (MTC) tackled this question of identity and commitment in its thought-provoking production of “Knowledge and Noise.”
The play is written and directed by local playwright Theo Reyna as part of MTC’s Sandbox Series, which supports new work by artists in the Miami area. The work tells the story of Pina, a young woman who loves learning for learning’s sake. When she is exiled from civilization for her refusal to choose a more specific path for her life, she resolves to become the first person to acquire all the world’s knowledge. However, she encounters an unexpected stumbling block on her quest when she is reunited in the wilderness with her brother Anton who, after many years of exile, has concluded that most knowledge is just trivial noise that must be cleared out of the mind.
Reyna’s script was sometimes overly heavy-handed and repetitive in its delivery of its intended themes. Scenes became mired in circles of the characters repeating the same ideas back and forth at each other, which effectively emphasized Reyna’s message about choice and readiness but could prove tedious at times. Fortunately, the show’s tight 80-minute runtime made these flaws more forgivable than if it were a longer play.
MTC’s four-person cast was unquestionably strong, carrying the full responsibility of delivering the plot with the aid with only minimal tech to aid them. Regina Gonzalez was believably brilliant and headstrong as Pina. The intimate 50-seat venue complemented Gonzalez’s transitional monologues, allowing for a direct address of the audience, and also highlighted her remarkably expressive face, which frequently displayed Pina’s thoughts as clearly as through dialogue.
“Knowledge and Noise” truly found its footing with the introduction of Anton, portrayed distinctively by Sebastian Lombardo. Lombardo fully embraced the emotional volatility of Pina’s long-lost brother, and the exceptionally realistic sibling dynamic of the two characters made their bickering and debate the play’s most compelling scenes. Jessica Farr and Giordan Diaz provided necessary comedy in their assorted ensemble roles, which lightened the tone of the show by breaking up its deeper philosophical musings.
As students across UM work to plan next semester’s schedule and beyond with their advisers this month, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a more topical show that “Knowledge and Noise.” Miami Theater Center’s production hits just the right notes, whether you’re a senior trying out a fifth possible major or a freshman picking your first.
If You Go
“Knowledge and Noise”
Where: Miami Theater Center, 9806 NE Second Ave., Miami Shores
When: 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays through Nov. 16
Cost: $10 for students, $20 regular price