Three explorers find themselves on journey into time at Modesto’s Prospect Theater

Prospect Theater Project

Three Victorian female explorers enter what they believe to be a new, unexplored land, only to find themselves on a journey forward into time in the latest play from Prospect Theater Project.

“On the Verge (or the Geography of Yearning)” was written by Eric Overmyer and debuted on stage in 1985. The production runs Jan. 11-20 at Prospect’s downtown Modesto theater.

Alexandra (“Alex”) Cafuffle, Fanny Cranberry and Mary Baltimore begin their expedition in 1888 into Terra Incognita, the last unexplored sector of the globe, according to a press release from Prospect Theater. “The three intrepid explorers have been sent to these unknown reaches by none other than the Boston Geo, which one can only imagine is slang for Boston Geographic Society. Each woman has hitherto been ‘solo sojourners,’ and all three begin their first group expedition with their own brand of bravery and zeal.”

Despite early disagreements, the three “seem to regard themselves and their friendship as just as rich an anthropological case study as the exploration of Terra Incognita itself.”

Soon, the trio encounter an inhabitant of Terra Incognita — Alphonse, “an amicable cannibal whose brief time with the women proves to be eye-opening indeed,” according to the release.

The encounter is the first of several that arise with many strange inhabitants for the trio. With each successive encounter, strange shifts begin to occur in time and space. “Our three heroines make the realization that they have not simply been moving forward into unknowns of geography — they have begun to move forward in time itself,” the release said.

“The play’s second act is a vibrant, delightful, intricate piece of magical realism that reminds one of Tom Stoppard, Sarah Ruhl, Jose Rivera, and other 20th and 21st century playwrights whose texts live in similar worlds that resemble our own, and yet blithely challenge our ideas about reality, logic, and perception,” according to the press release.

Prospect co-founder Kathleen Ennis stars as Alex with Jill Taylor Barnes (“Vanya, Sonya, Masha, and Spike”) as Fanny and Jenni Abbott (“Death of a Salesman,” “33 Variations”) as Mary. David Messamer (“Three Days of Rain”) plays all eight of the characters in Terra Incognita that the women meet.

Founding Artistic Director Jack Souza directs the play with costuming by Kat Strauss.

“On the Verge”

WHEN: 8 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays, 2 p.m Sundays; Jan. 11-20

WHERE: Prospect Theater Project, 1214 K St., Modesto

TICKETS: $25; $10 active military and students