Inspired by the 2007 collapse of the Mississippi River Bridge in Minneapolis, Allison Moore's work-in-progress Rolling World Premiere COLLAPSE bares all in a comedic but heartfelt story about picking up the pieces and moving on when our lives fall apart. As Hannah tries to hold her perfect life together amidst job loss and infertility, her husband David calls in sick to work for days on end and drinks. When Hannah's flakey sister blows in from Los Angeles unannounced with all her worldly possessions and a strange package to be delivered, the family sets off on an odyssey full of hysterical surprises and moving turns.
Remember that phenomenal 1969 film Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice? Well, this play is not that movie and that's a good thing. Or maybe a bad thing. This production is the second of three productions in a national Rolling World Premiere. That means up-and-comer playwright Allison Moore has been given the opportunity by National New Play Network to revise the script throughout each production run. That's awesome, because there is still some work to be done here. At this point in its evolution, Moore's story seems to want to be taken seriously (13 people died and 145 were injured in the '07 bridge collapse), but somehow verges on sitcom silliness and seems more like a melodrama that ties up nicely with a little bow on top. But even as after school special as the show feels, it does make you think about things like fracturing and falling and failing. When our personal worlds collide, does life collapse? Is life simply a 12-step program? When the weak spots in our infrastructure just can't take the weight anymore, is it best to tumble scratching and screaming into the abyss, or should we tuck and roll and hope to land on our feet? For as campy as this show is, it's still laugh out loud funny and delightful when all the tumbling pieces fall into place.
Rebecca Remaly as mother-wannabe Hannah offers a good performance, but did not make the lead role her own. Because I see potential in this show, it's worth mentioning a couple of things that could improve her dramatic and comedic performance: when her character begins at a 9 on a dramatic/ hyper/ anxious scale of 10, there is nowhere to go, and she needs a Little Room to ramp up by a certain part of the play. On the comedic front, Hannah is from Minnesota and should sound like it. Add a bit of accent and her character will be more endearing and funnier than flip-fried lutefisk (if you don't believe me, see Drop Dead Gorgeous). Laurence Curry is impressive in his Curious Theatre debut. He gives the role of traumatized David - a bridge collapse survivor - range and humanity. His monologue describing the tragedy happening all around him on that fateful day socks you with an emotional wallop and showcases the best writing in the entire show. Jessica Austgen as Hannah's hippie, newly-jobless sister Susan and Michael Morgan as impotent sex addict Ted support this show well and offer appreciated comedic turns.
The set by Reuben Lucas is sheer genius, taking us from Hannah and David's apartment to the highest reaches of the bridge. The play itself is symbolically strong and the set supports this inherent imagery - from the tangible symbols of the ever-present bridge in Hannah and David's apartment (representing the oppressive horror of David's experience and how it has come to encompass his and Hannah's life together) to the more abstract imagery of softly wafting clouds against a blue sky high in the background (representing high hopes and optimism in times of personal fracturing, falling, and failing).
Directed capably by Dee Covington, COLLAPSE - in this particular stage of development anyway - is less thought-provoking and more camp-style entertainment than other shows Curious Theatre has put on in the past year (see previous reviews for A NUMBER and CLYBOURNE PARK). That said, our little church-turned-theater in Denver's Golden Triangle deserves kudos for supporting National New Play Network and their rookie playwrights. And, for the record, I'm curious to witness this play's growth while at Curious, as well as how it changes in its third run elsewhere and where it eventually lands in the grand scheme of theater.
COLLAPSE plays at Curious Theatre until December 10th. For tickets or information, contact the box office at 303-623-0524 or online at www.curioustheatre.org.