BWW Review: Café Nordo's 'Twin Peaks' Homage LOST FALLS Bites Off More Than It Can Chew

BWW Review: Café Nordo's 'Twin Peaks' Homage LOST FALLS Bites Off More Than It Can Chew
Ryan Higgins, Ayo Tushinde, Evan Mosher, and Opal Peachey in
"Lost Falls"
Photo Credit: Bruce Clayton Tom

Something as stylized as "Twin Peaks" is really difficult to emulate, even in the form of homage. Café Nordo's "Lost Falls" certainly looks the part: a rustic, log hotel from yesteryear populated by a sultry, young femme fatale, a woman with an imaginary friend, an unwaveringly optimistic detective with an affinity for the simpler things. The play looks the part, but the commitment to incorporating so many iconic nuances created a jam-packed tribute with little cohesiveness. Audience members need not feel required to have seen "Twin Peaks" to enjoy the show, but it helps make sense of the surreal parody, because, unfortunately, the plot does not stand on its own.

It took David Lynch two seasons and a movie to explore the town of "Twin Peaks" and to investigate who murdered Laura Palmer in his 90s television series, "Twin Peaks." David Lynch has a very stylized, slow burn approach to mystery solving, so trying to cram a whodunit à la "Twin Peaks" in two and a half hours is...tricky. There are so many minute nuances to the characters and the environment that take time to really make sense (sometimes they never do), so even though Café Nordo's latest production and Twin Peaks parody "Lost Falls" looks the part and sounds the part (and tastes the part!), the show tries to jam-pack everything that makes "Twin Peaks" iconic into one show. This unfortunately created pacing issues that sacrifice the original narrative's iconic seductive creep.

That's not to say that the individual scenes in the play don't lack for Lynchian flair. Take, for example, a very successful part of the show. To the scratchy, repetitive buzz of somewhere between a cicada and the end of a record, Rocky Graves (Carol Thompson) slinks around in the dark, yammering at detective Eliot Penn (Evan Mosher) in seemingly empty hypno-babble. It's ominous and other-worldly, like in a nightmare, but what exactly Thompson is saying goes over one's head. The "Twin Peaks" references during these moments are not imperative, but they help, given that your run of the mill murder mystery normally does not involve surreal soliloquies performed amidst the detective's lucid dream.

Penn is trying to solve the murder of Chef Nordo Lefesczki, with the help of the testimonies of three primary suspects: Michael Stern (Ryan Higgins), Delores Black (formerly Delores Lefesczki, played by Opal Peachey), and Angelica Crew (Ayo Tushinde). Stern is the greasy man on a motorcycle that treats women like garbage but they still find him attractive. Black is a manic, pampered divorcee who dotes on her imaginary Chihuahua, Colonel. Crew is young, rebellious, and has a bad attitude. The three of them recount the moments before Chef Nordo Lefesczki was murdered, and no two testimonies are quite the same. Meanwhile, Penn is solving the case with his own metaphysical, surreal approach to detective work.

It's "Twin Peaks 101" in that, technically, all of the elements are included: the sleepy doo-wop, 90's fashion, the charmingly optimistic detective with an affinity for donuts (but not coffee or pie, for some reason), the log cabin location (shout-out to Terry Podgorski for a transformative set design), etc. It's an outstandingly conceived "Twin Peaks"-themed party with a less entrancing storyline. So that's the problem-like "Twin Peaks", it has complicated, dramatic subplots and supernatural elements, but (unlike the show) it all happens so fast that it's difficult to process.

Carol Thompson's portrayal of the psychotic Rocky Graves lives in a very entertaining sweet spot between funny and frightening. Thompson captures Lynch's sense of humor beautifully. Evan Mosher's Eliot Penn is upbeat and capable (and he can sing!). Opal Peachey's manic portrayal of Delores Black is entrancing and weird (in a good way). As aging punk Michael Stern, Ryan Higgins is convincingly skeezy. As the troubled Angelica Crew, Ayo Tushinde holds her own.

The menu for "Lost Falls" is playfully deceptive. Director of the show and executive chef Erin Brindley's menu contains five courses that, at first glance, are your run of the mill diner breakfast (donuts, coffee, scrambled eggs, etc.), but the wait staff repeatedly reminds diners that the food is "not what it seems." Omitting any culinary spoilers, the food is a fun gimmick with a pretty satisfying payoff (especially the oatmeal), but it felt like the visual trickery took priority over flavor. Somewhat similarly, the cocktail flight's theme appears to be "strange"; it's comprised of five seemingly unrelated drinks, each containing bizarre ingredients (like a Bloody Mary that uses beer instead of vodka). The odd ingredient combination worked better in some drinks than others. The pineapple and cold-brew coffee cocktail is surprisingly delicious.

The musical numbers bookending the scenes were a delight. Composed by Annastasia Workman (who's also on piano), it's jazzy and doo-wop; plus Matt Manges on drums has some really funny dialogue with agent Eliot Penn. Devin Bannon on vocals is dreamy in every sense of the word.

The "Lost Falls" universe is a fun one to be in. Looking like "Twin Peaks" is not difficult, but capturing the essence is. Café Nordo's show has the right ideas, but one cannot replicate the "Twin Peaks" experience in two and a half hours. For looking the part, but lacking the pith, I give Café Nordo's "Lost Falls" 3/5 stars. Maybe the only person who can really pull off David Lynch is David Lynch.

"Lost Falls" performs at Café Nordo through June 25, 2017. For tickets and information, visit them online at www.cafenordo.com.

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From This Author Amelia Reynolds

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