Monday, August 15, 2016

Fringe Festival 2016: "Twice"

Day: 11

Show: 54 (encore)

Title: Twice

Category: Drama

By: Its Time Productions

Written by: Chris Andersen and Lee Lawing

Location: The Playwrights' Center

Summary: Three pairs of plays by two playwrights explore the same situations and themes in different but complementary ways.

Highlights: My 54th and final show of the Minnesota Fringe Festival was the encore performance of Twice, which sold out its entire run at The Playwrights' Center. I can see why. These six short plays, each of which could stand on its own as a fully defined situation and characters, together form a more complete picture around the themes of family, relationships, endings, beginnings, death, and hope. "A customer walks into a record store" becomes two young men (Reid Emmons and Jacob Mierva) flirting, or two older men (Peter Vitale and Dennis Spears) flirting. "People gather in a church during a downpour" becomes three church ladies (Janet Hanson, Annette Cummings, and Jane Zilch) planning a party and gossiping,* or a stranger comforting a grieving mother. "A son sits with his dying father" becomes an imagined last conversation, or an urgent flight home. It's a fascinating idea for a playwriting experiment that turned into one really well-written, -directed (Audrey Stottler), and -acted piece of theater. And an excellent conclusion to an excellent 2016 Minnesota Fringe Festival.

*During this comedic piece, I suddenly became aware of something flying over the stage. In my fatigued and Fringe-addled suspension of disbelief space I first thought, is that a bird? Is it part of the play? Until it donned on me - it's a bat! A real, live, unplanned, bat! As the rest of the audience and the cast also came to this conclusion, the scene came to a screeching halt, and people screamed or nervously laughed as they covered their heads. We all just sort of helplessly watched it until it flew backstage, where it made its way into the tech room and landed on the window facing the stage, whereupon some hero trapped it in a blanket and let it loose outside (I hope). We all cheered, and the brilliant cast picked up where they had left off after a few quips. This, my friends, is the beauty of live theater. You never know what could happen!