Wade A Vaughn, Katie Guentzel, Sherwin Resurreccion, and Tessa Flynn in Maple and Vine.
Photo by Tony Nelson
Jordan Harrison's Maple and Vine takes the viewer back to a "simpler" time, and Frank Theater is inviting audiences along for the ride.
"It's an intriguing little puzzle of a play," says director Wendy Knox. "It's the idea of a gated community where it is all in set in 1955. The whole premise is that in 1955, the boundaries were much clearer. Will that make you happier?"
Harrison, who spent some time based in the Twin Cities, has seen a number of intriguing works presented over the last decade, including Kid-Simple, Finn in the Underworld, and Act a Lady. This is actually the second time Frank has produced his work, as he wrote one of the segments in their marriage-equality show, Standing on Ceremony.
Though the play has plenty of humor, it also probes uncomfortable topics, which is a perfect fit for Frank. "When I first read it, it made me think of a Michelle Bachman world," Knox says.
Part of the idea is that the authenticity goes beyond the look or sounds of the era. The people need to have roles in accordance to Eisenhower-era America. One of the couples is Asian American. On the outside, he is a plastic surgeon. Inside? He works in a factory.
The company includes David Beukema, Tessa Flynn, Katie Guentzel, Sherwin Resurreccion, and Wade Vaughn. The play gives them "the opportunity to play multiple levels," Knox says.
On a design level, the show has been a blast. "It's fun to play with the '50s style," says Knox.
Beyond those elements -- and the play's humor -- are the underlying themes. "It touches on issues of race, gender, class, and this thing with nostalgia. I was watching a documentary about nostalgia, and it was positing it as a disease," Knox says.
The production opens Frank's 25th anniversary season. "For me, most of Frank is the day to day grind. Frank has taken over half of my house and I can't park my car in my garage. Then I look at our production history and you get to all these great plays," Knox says.
"When I lift my head away from the grindstone, I feel really lucky that I get to do what I want to do. I get to do plays that are challenging and interesting and a lot of plays that do address the world we live in. I get to work with great people, and get to do work the way we want to do it," Knox adds.
IF YOU GO:
Maple and Vine
2821 Nicollet Ave. S., Minneapolis
For tickets and information, call 612.724.3750 or visit online.