Stage shorts

2.5 Minute Ride

A Contemporary Theater, ends July 30

ACTOR/WRITER LISA Kron's wonderful one-woman show gives us three stories packed into one hurtling monologue, each of which seems destined to collide, messily, at any time with one of the other simultaneous narratives. The piece starts slowly, as the formidably chatty performer gives us a family "slide show" in which she fills in verbally for the blank projections. Eventually her generalized anecdotes of her family coalesce into three narrative strands: a family trip to Cedar Point amusement park, with her 75-year-old diabetic father who insists on riding the roller coasters; another trip with her father, this time to Auschwitz, where his parents were murdered; and, finally, the wedding of her brother to a nice Jewish girl he met over the Internet. As Kron switches, lightning-quick, from one to another, the show picks up an unstoppable and entirely original energy.

All three tales involve Kron's decision to "strap herself in" for a harrowing, life-changing experience, with the very real fear that disaster could result and lives be irrevocably altered. Indeed, in the midst of the Auschwitz piece, Kron stands literally speechless, unable to express the emotional experience of her story with words. But somehow from the frenzy, speed, and cacophony of all of this, a central figure emerges—her quiet, frail, yet almost impossibly heroic father. Despite the rapid-fire delivery and brilliant precision of her artistic observation, this show highlights the last thing you'd ever expect to see in a solo performer: sincere humility.


Closet Land

Sand Point Naval Air Station, Hangar 30, ends July 30

INTENDED TO BE a confrontational piece dramatizing the inhumane torture of a political prisoner, Closet Land comes off as a sterile intellectual exercise. Writer Radha Bharadwaj gives us an Orwellian tale about an anonymous woman brutally interrogated by an anonymous official of an anonymous government for a vague crime against the state. This anonymity of the characters and situation should create a clean surface on which to cut into the nature of political and ideological tyranny. Instead, it gives actors Shawn Yates and Clark Ray little more to work with than a victim-story.

Set in a stark, generic office harshly bathed in fluorescent light, the dark injustice of the woman's physical and mental humiliation is laid bare before us. Director/producer A.J. Epstein's decision to stage the show with banks of seats lining opposite sides of the stage is particularly inappropriate to the material, working against the claustrophobia of the subject matter and creating such a static line of movement onstage that the effect is more like a tennis match. One is too busy following the volleys of circuitous dialogue to feel the horror of the crime.


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