Life in a ‘Snowglobe’ shakes up philosophical issues

Everyone, at some point in their lives, questions the nature of the universe and their place in it — even if said universe is only 15 feet high and 15 feet in diameter, with a population of two. The characters in playwright Nicholas Wardigo’s “Snowglobe” live entirely within the titular glass knickknack, which doesn’t prevent them from raging the heated, age-old debate pitting science against religion.

“It’s much easier to discuss the origins of the universe when you can actually see the entire universe,” Wardigo says. “This setting was a great way to discuss philosophical conundrums in a microcosm.”

The MacKnight Foundation’s world premiere of “Snowglobe” at the Shubin Theatre, directed and designed by Bill McKinley, features local actresses Charlotte Northeast and Amanda Schoonover as the two women trying to make sense of their world of fake snow, plastic trees and miniature houses.

The audience for these discussions, having an outside perspective on this rather limited universe, has more insight than the characters themselves, which Wardigo says leads to the play’s humor. “We in the audience know that the creator of this universe was sitting on a production line in Hong Kong with a hot glue gun,” he explains. “The characters don’t have that information, so they have to come up with their own theories, and one skews science while the other skews religion. And both have their flaws; both of them get things very wrong at times.”

The idea for “Snowglobe” came in part from Wardigo’s own interest in the big questions of life, the universe and everything, and from his own diverse reading on the subject, which might range from the Gnostic Gospels to an article on the latest advances in quantum physics. But it also stemmed from his love for — and boredom with a great deal of — theater. “I’m tired of seeing shows that are set in dining rooms or restaurants, and I wanted to do something different,” he says.

While the central debate is key to the play, Wardigo is quick to point out that he wasn’t interested in presenting a didactic argument. “This play isn’t 90 minutes of philosophical discourse. These are two characters who are having a crisis, and they’re funny and serious and screaming and angry and scared. It’s really about two characters, but their plight has an analogy to what all of us think about ourselves and our world at some point.”

Jan. 23-Feb. 9
Shubin Theatre
407 Bainbridge St.
$17-$25, 347-644-7577

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