This afternoon David and I joined our friend Heinke to see a play at the Chester Theatre Company in Chester Mass. This was our first visit to this venue.
It is held in the Town Hall, and today, was arranged as a theatre in the round, or more correctly, in the square, with the audience seated on all sides of the acting area.
The play was Every Brilliant Thing by Duncan Macmillan 'with' Jonny Donahoe. I'm not sure if the 'with' means he is the co-author or what.
The actor was Joel Ripka.
At first I assumed that this was to be a one-man show. Then ushers handed out numbered cards with phrases written on them for the audience to read aloud when asked, so I decided it was to be a Second City type of improvisation, where the audience calls out ideas and the actor(s) make things up.
It turns out it was none of the above. Mr. Ripka asked the audience to read what was on their card when he said their number. This was really a gimmick to keep the story moving about his suicidal mother and a list of wonderful things he began when he was seven years old and continued well into adulthood. He was obviously following a script and the cards read by the audience merely triggered the next section on the dialogue.
He asked several members of the audience to participate. Our friend Heinke was one of the impromptu members of the cast. He either told them what to say or handed them another card to read.
After a while this became annoying to this jaded theatre-goer.
He went through the list up to the 800,000's. Telling us his life history as we went along. It was sad and was a strong commentary against suicide, but became tiresome for this listener.
After seeing Barrington Stage's Kunstler a while back, which was a very strong one-man show, (even though the author included one minor character), this was cold potatoes.