Ich, Kurbisgeist: Don't make the Great Pumpkin angry

Skyler Nowinski in <i>Ich, Kurbisgeist.</i>

Skyler Nowinski in Ich, Kurbisgeist.

It's fitting the the 30th anniversary season of Red Eye Theater opens with an absolutely confounding work. 

After all, experimentation has been the heart of the company for decades and Sibyl Kempson's Ich, Kurbisgeist ("I, Pumpkin-Spirit") offers a text written in a language close enough to English to sometimes be understandable, a woman whose backside transforms into a pair of pumpkins, and a bit of all-audience participation at the end.

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That's not to say I didn't enjoy much of my time with Ich, Kurbisgeist. It's just that it defies usual analysis. The plot involves the denizens of a village where the pumpkin harvest is celebrated, in part, with some wanton destruction of our favorite autumn orange squash. The spirit of the pumpkins is none too pleased by all of this. 

There's also a witch, some Puritan-looking folks, and time travel involved as well. The made-up middle-English dialect puts a barrier between the audience and understanding, like watching a familiar play performed in a foreign language. The shape of the piece can be worked out, but the nuances are left tantalizingly out of reach.

What makes this work? The commitment of the five-actor cast to their roles, both as the Ooldstre's in the village and then as the various other denizens propels all of this along. There are plenty of arresting moments stretched through the piece, such as an early vision of the ritual when the pumpkins are wantonly destroyed.

Playwright Kempson and director Steven Busa work to merge whimsy with growing unease, creating a 70-minute theatrical dream that slowly becomes nightmarish as it hurtles to its final, off-the-rails minutes.


Ich, Kurbisgeist
Through Oct. 27
Red Eye Theater

15 W. 14th St., Minneapolis

For tickets and more information, call 612.870.0309 or visit online.

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