The latest show from Dark & Stormy Productions returns to a playwright that the company had great success with just a few months ago. The Drunken City comes from the pen of Adam Bock, who crafted the dark The Receptionist.
"He has such a distinct voice. The tone of the play is very different. It's a completely different side of the playwright. It's hopeful and funny," says actor and Dark & Stormy founder Sara Marsh.
Interestingly enough, not everyone in the cast sees the show as a bright and happy work. The play centers on characters who spend a considerable amount of time drunk. That removes some of the inhibitors that people usually have when interacting with each other.
"There are lot of things that are said that are hurtful. There are shocking actions that might be positive to someone, but can be terribly destructive to someone else. It's a very full, real world," says performer Kris L. Nelson.
"They do hurt each other," adds actor Ben McGovern. "But they are fighting for each other, for their friends and themselves. They all stand up for each other and harm each other."
"It's a slice of life," says director Bill McCallum. "There's not a lot of exposition. The audience has to sit forward and work out what's happening."
The play was selected after the success of The Receptionist, and after a reading of the script, Marsh says.
"We had such an overwhelming positive response to the reading that we decided to go ahead and do it," Marsh says.
Of course, they had to find a cast and a place to present the show. Marsh remembered the Lyric Lab from auditions she had worked at several years ago. The space works with the found aesthetic of Dark & Stormy, though it does provide some amenities -- like a lighting rig -- that were absent in the past.
The play itself "is a little more abstract. It has more locations in it. This suits the show better than the other locations would have," Marsh says.
As in past shows, the production features a number of top Twin Cities talents taking part.
"I'm having this phase where classical work give me rashes, so doing a modern work is a thrill. Adam Bock is a terrific writer, and there are classical strains running through the play," says Paul de Cordova.
The company includes a mix of actors who are Dark & Stormy veterans and newcomers. "I have seen all the shows they have done," says Tracey Maloney. "I've been hoping to work with the company for a long while."
"I've been wanting to work with Tracy forever," Marsh adds.
The production also features Dark & Stormy veterans stepping into new roles. McGovern, who directed The Receptionist, will tread the boards here, while McCallum moves into the director's chair.
"I haven't been onstage for so long," McGovern says. "It's really been great. Directing is still my focus, but it is great to get onstage and remember what the experience of being an actor is."
McCallum has directed "intermittently and sporadically. I think like a director. I had to train myself as an actor to not worry about things that weren't in my control. I like to look at the big picture. I love the process of making theater so much," he says.
"It's a dream group of people for me," Marsh says. "I am grateful to be working with everyone. We have great chemistry."
"It feels so collaborative," Maloney adds. "It feels like a labor of love."
IF YOU GO:
The Drunken City
The Lyric Lab, the Lyric at Carlton Place, 765 N. Hampden Ave., St. Paul
For tickets and more information, call 612.724.5685 or visit online.