by SOPHIE KERMAN
It’s official: the success of the Loudmouth Collective is not a fluke. Following on her deep and funny January production of Will Eno’s “Thom Pain: Based on Nothing”, director Natalie Novacek opens the Loudmouth’s second season with another one-man show, no less well-acted or thought-provoking than “Thom Pain”. This time, we are treated to an unstoppable performance by Wade A. Vaughn in Daniel MacIvor‘s Cul-de-Sac.
The premise is simple: it is a few minutes after 2 AM, and Leonard is dying. As his final sound slides through the windows along Leonard’s dead end street, we slip into living rooms and bedrooms to hear what everyone really thinks about their long-time neighbor. Of course, once everyone starts talking, they have much more to say about themselves than about Leonard, leaving Leonard’s character in semi-obscurity while painting a vivid portrait of this small community.
And did I mention this is a one-man show? Like Leonard’s last noise as it drifts across lawns and pools on windowsills, Vaughn morphs his entire physicality until you can almost see each of his nine different characters staring out through his eyes. From a teenage girl to a retired veterinarian to a frustrated housewife, each character is distinct and nuanced. That Vaughn can keep his characters straight deserves praise; that he can do that and shape a full range of hilarious, sharp, and beautifully morbid moments deserves an award.
At several points in the play, Leonard muses about transformation and wonders how anyone knows what (or whose) story they are supposed to tell. The solution MacIvor seems to propose in Cul-de-Sac is that an individual’s ability to transform is not bounded by their own body, and they can tell an endless number of stories as they take on another person’s form. Deep? Yes, but not so heavy you won’t find yourself doubled over laughing for at least half of the play’s 90 minute run time.
For yet another balanced, relevant, and outstandingly-acted look at what it means to be alive, the Loudmouth Collective is making its mark as a strong and clever new company to watch.
Cul-de-Sac, by Daniel MacIvor, produced by the Loudmouth Collective at the Open Eye Figure Theatre, 506 East 24th St, Minneapolis, MN 55404. May 17-20 and 23-26. All performances at 8pm. All seats are $15 or $10 with a Fringe button. For more information or to reserve tickets, call (612) 643-1231 or visit www.loudmouthcollective.com.