The Balcony

Josh Cragun

Revolution, counterrevolution, and the metaphorical nature of the modern city are the grist for Jean Genet's The Balcony, which opens the new space for Nimbus in northeast Minneapolis. It's an ambitious undertaking for any company, and here it stretches the theater's resources to the breaking point. While the large cast is game, uneven acting threatens to short-circuit the good work. In a nameless city, a brothel that specializes in fulfilling the wildest dreams of ordinary men becomes the focal point of a revolution. Outside the walls, the revolutionaries rally around Chantal, a prostitute who escaped the clutches of Irma, who runs the brothel. Inside, Irma, along with the chief of police and a representative of the government, plot to regain control by having clients masquerade as a deceased bishop, judge, and general. The characters continue to twist within their roles, as each scene takes on heavier metaphorical weight. Some of the performances are too stiff—Mason Mahoney's chief of police has none of the menace or insecurity needed, while Heidi Berg's Irma is several degrees too cold—which can make the action surrounding those characters drag. Other elements are used to considerable effect, including Zach Morgan's creative, multilayered set. It doesn't hurt the show's impact that revolutions are playing out in the Middle East and even neighboring Wisconsin, with political figureheads playing strong roles in the real-world action. Director Josh Cragun pushes the material and the company, and produces moments that transcend the limitations, creating something truly strange and grand. $10-$15. 1517 Central Ave. NE, Minneapolis; 612.548.1380. Through March 6

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