Monday, April 06, 2009

The Mineola Twins

‘THE MINEOLA TWINS’ opens convergence continuum season

Paula Vogel, the author of ‘THE MINEOLA TWINS, which is now in production at convergence continuum, has been a productive playwright since the 1970s. She is the kind of writer whose works fit perfectly into the convergence play selection criteria of choosing scripts that challenge the audience. W

Although no particular theme or topic dominates her work, she often examines controversial issues such as sexual abuse, AIDS and prostitution. Vogel says, "My writing isn't actually guided by issues. ... I only write about things that directly impact my life."

Following her smashing success and Pulitzer Prize for ‘HOW I LEARNED TO DRIVE,’ Vogel followed up with ‘THE MINEOLA TWINS,’ a feminist condemnation of both the right and the left, which was staged in New York, with super-star Swoozie Kurtz. The play received mixed reviews, and lasted only 3 months.

Identical twins Myra and Myrna are children of the 50s. Myrna, she of extremely large breasts, is the Republican conservative one, while flat-chested Myra is a poster child for the rabble-rousing liberal. In six scenes and four dream sequences set in 1955, 1968, and 1990, the two mortal enemies battle one another and their opposing beliefs, tearing down each other and their loved ones, in a battle to the death.

The convergence production, under the directorship of Clyde Simon, generally works well. Unfortunately, on the night I saw the play there were line stumbles, slow pacing, long set changes. On the other hand, the laughs were plentiful and the over-the-top story clearly developed.

Lucy Bredeson-Smith plays both twins. This is a difficult task in the small 50-seat theatre that makes every movement obvious. On a traditional proscenium stage the changes of clothing and sets could have been hidden, but not in this space. She nicely separates the characters as they age.

Geoffrey Hoffman is excellent in the early scenes, but becomes unfocused as the play rolls on. Bret Holden is fine in the young boy roles. Pandora Robertson’s choreographed set changes are clever and her development of Sarah, the lesbian lover of Myra, is well developed.

Whoever designed and/or selected the wigs did the cast a major disservice. The wigs used to aid in doubling and tripling of characters kept falling off or going askew, which unfortunately, made serious scenes humorous.

Capsule Judgement: ‘THE MINEOLA TWINS’ fits well into convergence’s production philosophy that expands the imagination and extends the conventional boundaries of language, structure, space, and performance that challenges the conventional notions of what theatre is.