SARASOTA – Ike Holter's Sender opened Friday at Urbanite Theatre in Sarasota.
Sender examines the world of those on the margins, people clinging to each other as they barely hang on to everything else.
Lynx has long been thought dead when he arrives back in Chicago on the one year anniversary of his supposed passing, sending the lives of three people close to him into a tailspin.
He shows up unexpectedly at his ex-girlfriend Tess's house to discover her still in shambles, having become a problem drinker with a self-destructive streak.
Jordan and Cassandra are trying to cobble together a life as they prepare for the birth of their first child, though Lynx's reappearance complicates their world for reasons tied to the past.
While the entanglements are slowly revealed, the play never bothers to address much of the backstory or explain exactly why Lynx faked his death and went off the grid other than to suggest that he may have owed money to dangerous people.
It's not really a plot-driven story so much as an examination of the way loneliness and isolation look in modern American society through the lens of those with limited, less than attractive options. Where it fails as a story, Sender excels as this sort of social treatise, and the performances of the actors cast by Urbanite are plenty strong to do Holter's work justice.
Recent FSU/Asolo Conservatory graduate L. James, who was a standout in both Conservatory and Asolo Rep roles in recent years, gives another very strong performance as Lynx. His Conservatory classmate, DeAnna Wright, showed tremendous growth in an intense portrayal of Cassandra.
Ryan Leonard gives Jordan just the right balance of playful aloofness crossed with sorrow, and Mary Williamson gives a harrowing performance as the deeply fractured Tess.
Sender is the kind of play that gives voice to something we know is out there even if we rarely come face to face with it and is a worthy examination of a certain type of generational existential angst that is rarely captured in real-time, making for a riveting evening of theater that keeps you thinking for days after the curtain falls.
Sender runs through February 16. Schedule and ticket information is available at urbanitetheatre.com.