Review: Step Right Up to "Randy's Dandy Coaster Castle"

Randy's Dandy Coaster Castle

Written by Alexander Perez

Directed by Rebecca Martínez

Presented by Egg & Spoon Theatre Collective at A.R.T./New York Theatres

502 W 53rd St., Manhattan, NYC

August 23-September 2, 2022

Omar Perez, Katherine George, and Adam Coy. Photo credit: Carol Rosegg
Randy owns an amusement park in Florida that bears his name: Randy's Dandy Coaster Castle. Except Randy is actually Ramón (Nate Betancourt), who immigrated from Cuba with his family when he was younger but feels that it is better for business to use a different name (and a different voice) in its public-facing aspects. Ramón's park is facing some challenges, not least from a new Six Flags in the vicinity, and Alexander Perez's engrossing Randy's Dandy Coaster Castle, currently making its world premiere, takes us inside both the boss's office and the breakroom of the eponymous park for an important week in the lives of people who have different plans and aspirations but ultimately share the same struggle of just trying to get by.
Adam Coy, Katherine George, and Omar Perez. Photo credit: Carol Rosegg
Burgess (Katherine George) is the new hire, still in the phase in which she is being trained–and just a tiny bit hazed–by her fellow employees. Arlo (Adam Coy) is the park's good-hearted stoner, quick to share a well rolled joint when the occasion demands. His coworker Rye (Omar Perez) doesn't exactly love working at Randy's but finds it difficult to imagine starting over somewhere else. Rye is also engaged to Schubert (Susana Montoya Quinchia), whose recent promotion to manager is causing some tensions in their relationship as well as with the other employees, now that she feels the need to be more responsible (and that more is expected of her as a woman manager than would be of a man in the same position). We see Schubert and Burgess in particular attempting to balance their jobs with their lives outside the park within a system of labor practices that doesn't treat employees as people, an experience that many who have worked hourly jobs in this country will recognize. Ramón too, while far from the ideal boss, is driven in part by his own obligations outside the park, which both humanizes him and underscores that owners and workers alike function within a capitalist system that is structurally, unrelentingly inhumane. Arlo, meanwhile, begins to believe that he might actually be able to find fulfillment and self-worth through his job. The way in which the characters' competing priorities come together ultimately suggests that, for most of us, precarity is a permanent position.
Nathan Betancourt and Susana Montoya Quinchia. Photo credit: Carol Rosegg
The production makes it easy to care about and become invested in these well drawn characters (to the point that one late moment produced audible gasps from the audience). The entire cast does commendable work–and show some enviable dance moves–whether the characters are bantering, bonding, or butting heads. Quinchia and Perez share some powerful one-on-one scenes, for example, as do Quinchia and Betancourt–who is fantastic as Ramón–and George and Coy. So come to Randy's Dandy Coaster Castle, where surviving on $9.50 an hour packs more thrills than any ride.

-John R. Ziegler and Leah Richards

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