BWW Review: Theatre Helping Theatre: Geki Arts And Broken Ivy Theatre
In a city populated by theatre companies, it can be hard for newer companies to make a splash and get noticed. It can also be difficult funding new productions. That's why there's nothing I love more than smaller new theatre companies helping each other out. And I had the privilege of seeing this cooperative nature in action. Two plays were being presented by two different companies almost back-to-back: "Gruesome Playground Injuries" by Rajiv Joseph and "The Maids" by Jean Genet were being produced by Broken Ivey Theatre and Geki Arts. I had the honor to be there for both shows their opening night.
And let me just say that the community that formed around these shows really gave me joy to be apart of such a vibrant theatre community. The house was filled with friends and families of the directors and producers. And they bounced around before and after the show greeting their mates, smiles on their faces. But mostly their faces were filled with pride in what they accomplished. Looking at this, it reminded me that we all have stories to tell, and it may take a lot of work to tell it, but when you get there; there's nothing like it. The feeling of all small theatre producers.
"Gruesome Playground Injuries" is one of my personal favorite plays. It tells the story of two friends; Doug, who gets physically hurt a lot, and Kayleen, who gets emotionally hurt a lot. The play performs their friendship in nonlinear vignettes, jumping around with their ages. In this production, the age and scene titles were displayed on a wall via projection. This was a fine enough show. As the story I knew went along, some moments were great and others were lackluster. The stand out was Chloe Armao who played Kayleen. She played the multiple ages of her character with such a fluidity were nothing felt disjointed in her character. She seemed to understand Kayleen on an intimate level. This, however, left Aaron Boger (playing Doug) not looking as polished. I know it isn't the case, as I recently saw Mr. Boger in an MN Fringe show and he is a fine actor. There just wasn't enough fluidity to his character. In all, "Gruesome Playground Injuries" was probably a good show to those unfamiliar with it. But it is a show that is written for the director to have fun with it, but it didn't seem like any fun was had.
"The Maids", on the other hand, was a much more balanced piece. It follows the story of two maids wanting to kill their master to inherit her wealth. And then, like other plays, drama ensues. I was unfamiliar with this play and, because of that, I was able to sit back and enjoy it more. Ava Egertson's direction really stuck out to me, because it displayed having a clear concept and really played with tension onstage. I usually pick out a standout in a show, but everyone was so balanced that no one really "stood out" from the rest. The cast all really played off each other. I should mention that Annie Schiferl did a really good job at being the show's comic relief and playing an age that she was clearly not. Alex Boss and Sophia Giovanis, playing the maids, had really nice chemistry as sisters and, most importantly, listened to each other while they acted and responded wonderfully. The only thing that confused me in this production is how they had American dialects, but say some proper words with a French dialect. Other than that inconsistency, I enjoyed "The Maids".
Minnesota Nice is often something we hear about when we talk about neighbors and coworkers, but these productions really showed me how this nice attitude can carry on in the theatre. It lifted my spirits that these two companies helped and supported each other and how, in the end, we got more theatre being produced.