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Wednesday, November 18,2009

Setting the bar

LCP’s ‘Opposites’ more than a play

by Mary C. Cusack
While the actual play clocks in under an hour, the experience of “Opposites Attract” begins immediately upon entering the LCP Underground, located in the basement of the firehouse that has been home to the Civic Players’ offices and costume shop for many years. The facility has been converted into an intimate black box space, and that space has been converted into a realistic bar for this production.

After you seat yourself at one of the large, round tables, bartender Potter (Garrett Clinard, a City Pulse employee) drops off a bowl of pretzels and takes drink orders. (Unfortunately, your choice is limited to soda.)


Cast members casually saunter in with patrons and seat themselves, and then house lights dim. Once the action starts it doesn’t stop, as the cast take on multiple roles investigating the many facets of relationships.


Playwright Bruce Kane’s vignettes are tied together well, although the stylistic changes between pieces are a bit distracting. The play opens with a wife, husband and his mistress taking turns addressing the audience, explaining their situation from their own points of view. As they speak, their motives evolve, as the wife (Kristie Dickinson) wishes to trade domes tic security for freedom, while the mistress (Brittney Benjamin) seeks that very security. Formerly in the catbird seat, the husband (Mark Boyd, with Evan Pinsonnault serving as understudy on opening night) sees his life reel out of his control.


This is the only scene for which it seems co-directors Misty Gailey and Kerry Waters might have chosen a better direction. If the players were addressing the bartender, instead of the audience, or sitting at a table with patrons they could have better maintained the illusion of the bar atmosphere.


The vignettes are linked by recurring character Lois (Phelan Dinverno), a barfly who destroys every relationship opportunity by regaling men with tales of a past relationship that was passionate but disturb ingly dysfunctional. Dinverno imbues her character with a nutty lack of self-awareness, making her oblivious to the dawning horror of her suitors.


The big payoff — for the audience at least — involves a wolf named Carl (Sineh Wurie) and a fox named Mary (Benjamin again). They hit it off in the bar, and then they head back to her place. The set change is one of the cleverest seen in Lansing in years, and to say more would be a big spoiler. Suffice to say, the audience remains close to the action, which only enhances the humor that is intrinsic in an awkward and disappointing bar hook-up.


“Opposites” is more than just a play; it’s a fully involved experience. It’s a big bang for 10 bucks, $11 if you have a soda. Drive safely, and don’t forget to tip your server.




‘Opposites Attract’


By
Bruce Kane Through Nov. 22 8 p.m. Thursday – Saturday 2 p.m. Sunday LCP
Underground, 2300 E. Michigan Ave., Lansing $10 (517) 484-9191
www.lansingcivicplayers.org


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