Thematic Echoes

May. 30, 2008
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Theatre companies don’t sit down to plan out their schedules with each other. This is pretty obvious from the way the schedules sometimes work out. Next month, for instance, there are almost no shows opening in the greater Milwaukee area. Then in July, something like ten shows suddenly open, most of them on the same weekend. Some tiem ago, two different companies in town both planned productions of Michael Hollinger’s Red Herring for the same season. What with how busy everyone is, it’s not all that realistic to think that everyone would have the time to negotiate opening dates and such. Every now and then there’s a string of openings that makes me wonder if there isn’t some kind of greater communication between the shows themselves. Themes seem to echo from one production to the next with the kind of pattern that almost seems to have its own kind of intelligence.

Earlier this month, Spiral Theatre opened its production of Two Rooms—a drama about a woman losing her husband to terrorists overseas. It’s a pretty sad story. I’d expected as much, as I had seen a production of it before with In Tandem Theatre (which is a bit odd, considering the gentleman covering the show for the daily seemed to think the Spiral show was a Milwaukee premiere, but I digress . . . ) One day after seeing the story of wife losing her husband, I saw a really well-executed Soulstice Theatre production of To Gillian On Her 37th Birthday--story of a husband losing his wife. This was NOT prepared for—two shows about spouses becoming widows. And my wife couldn’t make it to either show. It was kind of a depressing weekend.

Things have perked-up a little since then. Off The Wall Theatre opened its production of Joe Ortn’s Entertaining Mr. Sloane—a non-musical dramatic comedy that showed what happened when someone becomes slave to being an object of fantasy for a man and a woman. Kind of a dark ending to that one . . . one week later, In Tandem opens its production of Jeremy Desmon’s The Girl In The Frame--a musical about a man and woman who are slaves to the men and women whose fantasies they come from. It was a pleasantly comic twist on the theme with a happy ending that seems to have more or less ended the main part of the season. Next week’s Bunny Gumbo combat thing should be an interesting prelude to a lull in theatre openings that will last through much of June.


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