‘Solitaire Suite’: Unsettling play for unsettling times

Marty Mason as Celeste Danner in Hub Theatre Company’s “Solitaire Suite.”

Celeste Danner (Marty Mason) is a city girl at heart and out of her element in the country town the family now calls home. 

Everything – even the roads she drives on every day – feel alien to a woman who grew up in Brooklyn. Most of the time, she is happy with just the familiar comforts of home – a glass of red wine and a chance to play Solitaire Suite, a favorite card game, on her iPad. 

It starts with a disconcerting call from her 10-year-old son Tiger (Michael Lin, heard but not seen), asking to come home from a sleepover at the home of his friend Lucas. 

Things don’t get any better from there in Trent England’s “Solitaire Suite,” a world premiere psychological thriller being streamed live by the Hub Theatre Company of Boston. The description “Twilight Zone meets Zoom” gives you an idea of what kind of ride you’ll be taking. 

The story is told through the eyes of Celeste, who tells us her husband Peter Danner (Christhian Mancinas Garcia) is a good father and husband and that’s the way she agreed to the move, even though their commutes to work are that much longer.  

When the couple arrives to bring Tiger home, they probe a bit to try and find out what it was that made him want to leave. 

Things start happening. Can’t seem to find any radio stations even the ones preset on the dial. She is having trouble finding her way back home buy one phone’s battery is dead and another is being used in the back seat by Peter and Tiger. 

Then comes the mysterious object in the sky.  

At first it is a game – chasing the mysterious object moving in the night sky with Tiger seeing it as a chance to perhaps make a video that could go viral. They track the object – perhaps just a broken drone? — and eventually they find it in the weeds by the side of the road, an H-shaped object that brightens, then dims. 

The claustrophobic nature of Zoom helps England ratchet up the tension as Peter and Tiger are enthralled with the glowing object and Celeste becomes increasingly alarmed, begging, pleading with them to throw it out of the car  before it’s too late. And then… 

Of course, at a time when the presence of strange invaders – such as a pandemic which has enveloped the entire world.– nothing seems familiar to us any more, and playwright England, accomplished director Daniel Bourque and the cast know how to manipulate us and play on those fears. 

“Solitaire Suite” by Trent England, directed by Daniel Bourque, presented by Hub Theatre Company of Boston, premiered Feb. 20 and will be will be performed live online on Friday, Feb. 26, and Saturday, Feb 27 at 7:30 p.m. All performances are Pay-What-You-Can.  For tickets and information, go to hubtheatreboston.org