Regional Reviews: Florida - West Coast
Also see Bill's review of Honor Killing
The final production of Manatee Players Action Through Acting series, presented in partnership with The Florida Holocaust Museum in St. Petersburg in the smaller Kiwanis Theatre, is Lisa Kron's 2.5 Minute Ride.
2.5 Minute Ride is a reminiscence, the author telling us about family outings to Sandusky, Ohio, with rides on the newest roller coasters along with a trip to Auschwitz where her father's parents had been interred. Seeing this just after Yom HaShoah, the annual remembrance of the sic million Jews who died, including almost 500,000 homosexuals, presented the possibility of a powerful evening, but that was not to be.
I have a mixed view on colorblind casting; some parts work well cast away from their original conception, others not so much. The role of Lisa Kron, born to an immigrant father and American-born Christian mother raised Jewish would be ideally cast with someone with some Jewish identity. Kathi Faulkner, blonde, blue-eyed and Southern, does not come close to that ideal. With an hour and a half of text to deliver, stamina is required, let alone offering a performance varied enough to hold an audience's interest. This Ms. Faulkner does remarkably well. Her physical presence is excellent and she effectively conveys the many contrasting emotions within our Jewish, lesbian, pulled a little toward Christianity character. She is to be commended for delivering as strongly as she does.
Director Mercury helps her keep focus fairly well. The text weaves in and out of the various family vacations, with plenty of moments where she is trying to reveal herself to the audience. All of this is not so easy for the audience to stay with. Set design by Ralph Nurmela, a series of empty picture frames, is suggestive and puts the audience into a world of family. Patrick Bedell's lighting is effective, suggesting slides being shown though images aren't visible.
I think 2.5 Minute Ride is a huge meal for an actress to try and digest, one suitable for a great actress reaching past her youth, and Kathi Faulkner makes a strong attempt. Many thanks to Manatee Players for offering challenging pieces in this series, stretching boundaries.
2.5 Minute Ride, through April 22, 2018, at Manatee Center for the Performing Arts, 502 3rd Ave W., Bradenton FL. For tickets and information, call 941-748-0111 or visit manateeplayers.com.