As the mystery unspools, it’s clear that the piece is weird after all. In a good way. Because you don’t get many opportunities around these parts to see sophisticated writing and story structure like this in a one-act play.
That hardly means Denali isn’t interesting. At times it’s deeply engrossing. The characters are colorful, and the acting top-notch, especially Kristy Hartsgrove who pulls double duty as the mourning sister Abby and then wickedly funny TV interviewer Karen.
But the script is the star, in my mind. Writer Austin Bunn spins a taut, clever yarn with just enough twists, turns and revelations to keep the audience guessing throughout the well-paced story arc. My only gripe is the somewhat hurried denouement. Earlier scenes are slow, deliberate. They reveal only what the playwright wants to reveal at that moment. Then, when it’s time for the grand resolution, Denali suddenly feels rushed.
To be fair, the piece is less than a year old. It could still be finding its footing by way of Fringe festivals. I’ll hold out hope that with such a promising start it will, like its characters, find its way in the end.