Monday, February 19, 2018

"Two Mile Hollow" by Theater Mu and Mixed Blood Theatre

My 280-character (or less) review of Theater Mu and Mixed Blood Theatre's first ever collaboration:
Friends, run don't walk to see #twomilehollow (co-production from @theatermu and @mixed_blood). I can't decide whom I love most in this cast of comic geniuses! But behind all the wackiness and humor is some seriously smart commentary on race and class in America.
If you don't have time to continue reading this post, that pretty much tells you what you need to know. Or stick with me as I expand on this tweet by a few hundred more words. Either way, if you like your theater smart, funny, relevant, and painfully true, Two Mile Hollow is not to be missed. Click here for more info and to purchase tickets.

the Donnellys at dinner (photo by Rich Ryan)
Japanese American playwright Leah Nanako Winkler has written a hilarious satire of a rich white family, played by an Asian American cast. This somehow makes the ridiculousness of the situation much more obvious. The situation being: a family reconvenes in their Hamptons estate at Two Mile Hollow in preparation for selling it. Mother Blythe is addicted to pills since the death of her movie star husband Derek 11 years ago. Their blended family includes now adult children Mary, Blythe's daughter, and Derek's sons Joshua and Christopher. Mary and Joshua are lost in the way only rich white kids can be lost - spoiled, their every need met, unsure of what to do with their lives. Christopher has become a movie star like his dad, and brings his personal assistant/lover Charlotte (the only "not white" character) home to meet the family.

movie star Christopher (Eric Sharp) with stepmother Blythe
(Sun Mee Chomet) and stepsister Mary (Kathryn Fumie)
(photo by Rich Ryan)
Over the course of a day, the family ridiculousness plays out as Mary admits to being in love with her movie star stepbrother, Joshua falls for his brother's assistant/girlfriend and proposes to her, and mother Blythe pretends she has cancer to cover her pill addiction. Charlotte is the one normal person, who grew up poor, didn't go to an Ivy League school, and has to work hard for her measly assistant salary. It's through her eyes that we experience the Donnelly family, with their subtle (and not so subtle) racism, classism, and entitled attitudes. The playwright brilliantly uses outrageous humor to explore these serious themes, in a way that might make the audience think a little bit while having fun.

Mu's Artistic Director Randy Reyes does a great job with this wacky script (some of the characters speak in strange accents and affectations) and the wonderful cast, keeping the tone at a heightened overly exaggerated soapy style. As I tweeted, I can't decide whom in this cast I love most; it changes from minute to minute. Is it Sherwin Resurreccion with his adorably neurotic portrayal of Joshua and his inability to pronounce words correctly? Or Eric Sharp with his movie star swagger that just oozes Hollywood? Or Kathryn Fumie as the damaged daughter with serious mommy issues and a crush on her stepbrother? Or Sun Mee Chomet, playing Blythe like the most extreme Real Housewife? Or Meghan Kreidler, as the outsider forced to the breaking point by these ridiculous white people? Perhaps it's all of the above.

Mixed Blood's black box space continues its setup from last fall's The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, a sort of two-sided thrust with the action at times spilling out the front and into the audience. Set designer Joseph Stanley has designed a posh beach house for the Donnelly, with boxes showing its in-transition stage. Costume designer Joanne Jongsma has dressed the cast in character-defining outfits, from Blythe's high heels and too much bling, to Mary's sweet little girl skirt, to Christopher's leather jacket and silk ascot.

Two Mile Hollow continues through March 4 at Mixed Blood Theatre in the West Bank neighborhood of Minneapolis. Be prepared to squirm, laugh, rethink some attitudes, and have a great time.

This article also appears on Broadway World Minneapolis.