If happy Christmas carols and sentimental holiday scenes aren't your idea of a good time, perhaps you might be enticed with an alternative holiday play?A Day in the Death of Joe Egg, presented by Public Dreams Theatre, opens this weekend at the Red Eye. The darkly comic farce is set during the holiday season, but is not for the faint of heart.
The play is follows a married couple, Bri (Randy Schmeling) and Sheila (Mary Fox), who are struggling to keep their marriage together while raising a developmentally disabled daughter, Joe (Adeline Wendt ). Joe is 10 years old, and has cerebral palsy. The couple has been surviving on laughter for the past decade, as Bri has "a bit of a comic personality," says director Benjamin Kutschied. His way of dealing with pain is to joke through everything. Sheila joins in the humor to please him, but "she's kind of clinging to the unrealistic hope that her daughter could get better some time," says Kutschied. Bri wishes they could put her in an institution.
The play utilizes several different styles -- including standup, living-room drama, and something similar to vaudeville at times -- with the climax done in farce.
When Peter Nichols wrote the play in 1967, Kutschied says it was groundbreaking. It was initially rejected by the Lord Chamberlain's office, which was dissolved the next year. Even today, "a lot of the play is still edgy," he says.
Kutschied and his wife, Mandy Kutschied, started Public Dreams Theatre last year when they did a workshop at Red Eye Theatre's Works in Progress series. This past summer, they presented their first fully produced production of The Tempest in Matthews Park in Minneapolis.
A Day in the Death of Joe Egg is a play they've wanted to do for a long time, and thought it would be a good show to do around the holidays. Kutschied has been a part of the Twin Cities theater community for the past 10 years; his wife has been doing theater here since she graduated from college in 2006.