The play begins with two screaming women running across the stage, colliding with each other and tussling furiously.

After this explosive opening, "Tunnel Vision," the new play at Laurel's Venus Theatre, is off and running.


What follows is an hour and a half in which the two women, strangers to each other, try to cope with being trapped in an unknown space. They push each other's pain buttons, sneer, scream, fall in love, fall out of love (maybe), indulge in self pity, create a chalk portrait and kick a cake pan around the stage.

What does it all mean? What an absurd question.

In fact, if this sounds reminiscent of plays by Samuel Beckett, Edward Albee, Eugene Ionesco and Harold Pinter, it is because "Tunnel Vision" is an exemplar of Theater of the Absurd playwriting.

The playwright is Andrea Lepcio, best known for the play "Looking for the Pony." "Tunnel Vision" has also been staged at Off the Wall in Pittsburgh. It is the second of Lepcio's plays that Venus has undertaken.

The two characters in the play are Jill, a ball of rage taken to pounding the walls with her fists; and Olexander, a doctor who is pregnant (or maybe not). In Freudian terms, Jill would be the id to Olexander's superego.

The second installation in Venus Theatre's "Sweet Sixteen: Groovy Young Things" 2016 season, "Garbage Kids," invites patrons to a wild walk on the homeless side through the eyes of abandoned kids.

Jill is portrayed by Katie Hileman, a graduate of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and artistic director of the Interrobang Theatre Co. in Baltimore. Playing Olexander is Kyosin Kang, a graduate of the Theatre Lab's Honors Conservatory Program in Washington, D.C.

In the play, Jill's volatility mostly fails to disturb the complacent Olexander.

"There's no way out," Jill says in a panic. "We're trapped."

"We're here. We'll have to make the most of it," replies Olexander.

In its relatively short running time, the play touches on babies, birthdays ("I had a good childhood one day a year," says Jill), "fulminating" skin diseases, the meaning of art and clothing made of plaid, which Jill calls "a very nearly perfect" fabric.

In one sense, the dialogue in the play is overshadowed by the action. It is a production to be watched first, then listened to. The actresses quite literally fling themselves into their roles. Audience members are advised to keep their hands and feet inside the roller coaster car.

Jill and Olexander are two trapped souls following in the footsteps of George and Martha, Estragon and Vladimir and perhaps the trio in Sartre's "No Exit." Can human connection rescue us from despair? Or is that question also absurd?

"I am finally rid of you," Olexander declares to Jill at one point.

But, of course, she isn't.


The play's direction is by Venus founder Deborah Randall, sound design by Neil McFadden, set design by Amy Rhodes and lighting design by Kristin Thompson.

The play runs until June 4 on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 3 p.m. The theater is at 21 C St. in Laurel. Tickets are $20 for members and $30 for nonmembers.