‘The Scene You Need’
Alchemist’s ode to loneliness
Alchemist Theatre’s The Scene You Need opens with a literal bang—an explosion of flashing lights which soon resolve themselves into projections of New York City. The scenic design by Aaron Kopec was one of the play’s highest points, his collaged, shifting projections elevating the nearly bare stage to a home for this story about the search for connection between the ultra-cool.
The play is structured as a series of moments that hop and skip from one place to another. The settings range from a Veterans Services office to a nearly empty porn theater to the incomparable Studio 54. The scenes remain focused on two-person conversations and while action is scarce, the language is lovely, particularly in the final monologue deftly delivered by David Sapiro as likely protagonist and wannabe writer, Eddie.
It’s one of those stories where the characters seem so disparate that it’s a joy to watch their storylines click together. The audience comes to know characters such as Mike (Paul Pfannenstiel), a questionable mayoral candidate, Sam (Andres Garuz), a nice-guy Vietnam vet, and Rose (Shannon Nettesheim), clerk-by-day, prostitute-by-night. Each actor finds engaging moments within the enduring sadness of their character’s lives.
April Paul portrays Izzy, a sort of punk poet entirely confident in herself and love of observing humanity, even as she describes how lost she feels. Paul sparkles here, her comedic timing bringing some light to the darkness, which weighs on the rest of the characters.
Fittingly, the intellectual climax occurs in the subway as Eddie encounters a drugged-out club rat (Clarence Aumend) who unexpectedly provides Eddie’s first real moment of understanding and human connection in the play. Aumend navigates his brief moment well, balancing comedy with poignant words on the permeable nature of reality and humanity’s intrinsic value.
Through July 11 at Alchemist Theatre, 2569 S. Kinnickinnic Ave. For tickets, visit thealchemisttheatre.com.