Mixed Blood Theatre's latest production delves into the lives of the rich, and their far-from-rich employees.
Elemeno Pea takes place in Martha's Vineyard, at one of trophy wife Michaela Kell's many homes. Her personal assistant, upwardly aspiring Simone, is paid a visit by her older sister, a solidly blue collar social worker.
Critics find the story that ensues alternatively charming and muddled.
Many of the things that playwright Metzler gets away with in this play, including some of the language, would bring grief to a writer of a different gender. But that's part of the charm of the show.
The point of "Elemeno Pea" is as muddled as the name. Does playwright Molly Smith Metzler simply want to ridicule shallow rich people -- which is awfully easy when they're presented as stereotypes we've seen a million times -- or to ultimately say we shouldn't judge others based on our perceptions? It may be the latter, but clarity is lacking.
My biggest issue with Mixed Blood's Elemeno Pea is that the play too often struggles to be funny, and I don't fully understand why. The writing is muscular and Metzler's grasp of her characters' plights is first rate. The cast is wonderful. Director Mark Valdez keeps the play crackling along nicely. The designers, working on a shoestring, have acquitted themselves extremely well. The lack of compelling comedy mystifies - but there it is.
Laurine Price, Pedro Bayon, Sun Mee Chomet and Grace Gealey in 'Elemeno Pea' at Mixed Blood Theatre
Photo by Rich Ryan
Metzler plays with our expectations of class and status from the beginning to the end of the play, avoiding simplistic platitudes in a story that uncovers a deep darkness at the heart of the American dream. In the end, I don't think she pushes it far enough. The play is, at turns, funny, dramatic, and heartbreaking. More intensity would serve the story.Elemeno Pea, written by Molly Smith Metzler and directed by Mark Valdez, runs through March 17 at Mixed Blood Theatre in Minneapolis.
Have you seen the show? If so, what's your review?