Mixed Blood Theatre bills its latest production, "Crashing the Party," as a "hilarious new comedy about the pursuit of the American dream, where hardworking parents lavish their children with material "love" and leave them with nothing to work for."
While at least one critic felt the show lived up to its promises, others say the comedy is strained. Check out these excerpts of reviews, or click on the links to read them in full.
Crashing the Party at Mixed Blood Theatre
Photo by Rich Ryan
Directed with zeal by Sarah Rasmussen and featuring a cast of well-paced pros, "Party" offers a comic tonic for our doldrums... The show has liberal blasts of humor and a few bullets (there is a shotgun in this "Party"). Rasmussen's production is well-timed and -executed. The orchestrated jokes, even when you see them coming, land perfectly. The fanciful plot twists further the humor.
If the American Dream is dead, then the characters in Crashing the Party, the world-premiere comedy by Josh Tobiessen at Mixed Blood, are picking at the corpse...
Tobiessen has created a screwball comedy for the modern world, one in which the physical humor can come from a clueless FBI agent (delightfully played by Mo Perry) who repeatedly shocks Arthur (Rolando Martinez, who does a fine job with all of his physical humor) into a stupor. The foibles of the family--and believe me, they are many--are merged with a growing sense of unease that their lives are at a dead end.
Crashing the Party at Mixed Blood Theatre
Photo by Rich Ryan
This zestfully bizarre but ultimately less-than-wonderful play is a farce and uses a machine gun approach to comedy. It shoots gags out with scattershot fervor, the hope being that even if only 50% land the audience will be laughing too hard to groan at the jokes that fall flat. Unfortunately, with this play, a 50% success rate is an impossible dream.From Dominic P. Papatola at the Pioneer Press:
Channeling the likes of Noel Coward or Kaufman and Hart requires a rapier sense of wit, a keen ear for dialogue and a pitch-perfect sense for characters and situations. Tobiessen's domestic comedy about an affluent and somewhat clueless family captures the preposterous circumstances of those older works and offers a measure of laughter, but the labor in the effort is plainly visible.
The play wants to inspire genuine interest in its characters and their relationships, but the zaniness of the plot doesn't allow these characters the space to develop. Although many of the plot twists are quite funny, their increasingly ridiculous quality undercuts the possibility for the affection expressed between the characters to be at all convincing. As a result, the more tender moments, which might themselves have been poignantly funny, come across instead as sentimental cliches that in turn work against the play's goofiness.
Crashing the Party runs through March 4. Have you seen it? If so, what's your review?
This coming fall the Guthrie Theater will stage works by playwright Christopher Hampton, show films he adapted for the screen, offer a master class with the playwright, and interview him before a live audience.
Not familiar with the name Christopher Hampton? Well then, perhaps you're familiar with these titles: "Dangerous Liaisons," "Atonement," and "A Dangerous Method." These are all films based on novels which Hampton then adapted for the stage and screen.
The Guthrie celebration, similar to the 2009 celebration of playwright Tony Kushner, will include the staging of three of Hampton's works.
Appomattox is an opera based on the American Civil War for which Hampton wrote the libretto and Philip Glass composed the score.
Tales from Hollywood tells the story of German émigré intellectuals such as Bertolt Brecht and Thomas Mann in Los Angeles during World War II.
Total Eclipse depicts the relationship between French poets Paul Verlaine and Arthur Rimbaud.
Dates for the runs of the shows have yet to be released.
Posted at 1:52 PM on February 15, 2012
by Marianne Combs
Filed under: Museums
But the most interesting character in the story by far was not the lead singer, or the guitarist, or the drummer... it was the producer, Ryan Olson.
The wizard behind the band, Ryan Olson, might be the most eccentric -- and disheveled-looking -- impresario in the local music scene. Ensconced in a dingy third-floor Minneapolis bedroom studio surrounded by computers and assorted musical gadgetry, and air thick with cigarette smoke, he only agreed to talk about the band if he wasn't photographed, and if he could digitally disguise his voice. "That's the way I'm just going to be represented on the radio," he insists, sounding like a Mafioso in witness protection thanks to the digital processing. "I just don't want to be on the radio."
Over the years, Olson has been the creative force behind some of the Twin Cities' most striking and influential bands, from the eerie electronica of Digitata, to the 25-member, 80s pop-inspired Gayngs. But Poliça might be his most fully realized creation to date -- and he's not even a member.
You can read more about Olson, and his role in molding the band's sound here. Or you can listen to the story by clicking on the link below:
Minnesota Sounds and Voices reporter Dan Olson recently spent some time with the Mu Daiko drummers and artistic director, Iris Shiraishi, during rehearsals as they prepare for their 15th anniversary tour.
Shiraishi says the ensemble's big drum is made from recycled California wine barrels, and its modern sound can be traced to a Japanese soldier and jazz drummer who picked up taiko after World War II.
The tradition migrated to Minnesota in 1997 when Rick Shiomi created Mu Daiko. Hawaiian native Shiraishi, who played French horn in high school, then studied music at the University of Iowa and University of Minnesota, started studying taiko with Mu Daiko that same year.
Watch them pound out a powerful rehearsal in the video below, and listen to Dan Olson's report by clicking on the audio link above.