Djingo Productions’ Wheel of Fortune, written and directed by Jung Ma, is a “problem play dealing with isolation, connection, and mass shootings in the digital age.”
Featuring performers Xiaoxiao Sun, Kristina Del Mar, and Ronit Asheri, the play takes themes and characters from Shakespeare rather than tackling the lamguage of the time.
So, there are nods to Romeo and Juliet, The Merchant of Venice, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream, to name but a few as we follow a young man through a dark comedy about online-driven relationships and isolation, where everyone watches.
It’s a premise that sounds promising. There’s a Puckish fairy who tries to help but often trips up, a meddling mother, and unsettling news. There’s gender fluidity and screen addiction.
The production values of this stream are good, with excellent sound balance (designer Kyle Daniels) and good visuals (albeit from one static camera). Moments of incidental music don’t feel forced and add colour to Wheel of Fortune.
This is a show for Shakespeare nuts to latch on to and appreciate, but also for fans of problematic dark comic plays delivered with a sense of light-heartedness.
Jung’s other written work includes themes of death and political repression, and some of this comes through in this play. Thrillers, too, where the pieces don’t always fit.
Wheel of Fortune is economical in its hour-long runtime, savouring its Bard connections while making its central character (Xiaoxiao) rounded and real.
The digital world and its sense of pulling lonely souls together is a strong theme throughout Wheel of Fortune. It is a cautionary tale – but no Shakespearian tragedy!