Considering the daunting survival rate of new performance troupes, the Gremlin Theatre's enduring success is worthy of celebration. From its nomadic launch in 1998, to a six-year stay at the Loading Dock Theater, to its current residency in a space on the corner of Raymond and University Avenues in St. Paul, the troupe has built an exemplary reputation for creating strikingly original fare — even in the midst of organizational challenges. With the Gremlin's existing lease due to expire this summer, the group has chosen playwright Paul Zindel's The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds as the concluding production in the intimate, 115-seat venue. Concerning an intellectually gifted but painfully introverted girl named Tillie, the work uses its titular subject as both the literal focus of a science-fair experiment and a metaphoric study of how a polluted home environment can impact a person's growth in surprising and unpredictable ways. In Tillie's specific circumstances, a promising future is continually endangered by a resentfully abusive mother and a volatile older sister. Bringing the emotionally layered character dynamic to life is a task left to an altogether impressive cast headlined by Jodi Kellogg, Caledonia Wilson, and Eleonore Dendy. Directed by Ellen Fenster, this final show at the Gremlin's latest home should prove a fitting reminder that inspired work sometimes flourishes in less than ideal circumstances.
Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 4 p.m.; Mondays, 8 p.m. Starts: June 7. Continues through June 23, 2013