The Drunken City: Falling in and out of love on a bender

People do silly things when they're drunk, like professing a deep, abiding love of Night Ranger, getting tattoos, and going home with a complete stranger.

They can also realize that their life is not as clear and happy as it seems, as in Adam Bock's The Drunken City. Over the course of a night of revelry, one character realizes that her upcoming marriage likely isn't what she wants, while another thinks he may have found a route to happiness.

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Dark & Stormy had great success late last year with Bock's The Receptionist. This piece is lighter than that meditation on the modern security state, but it is certainly the work of the same mind. The strong ear for naturalist dialogue remains, as do the quick and deftly crafted characters.

This time out, the story centers on a trio of friends -- Marnie, Linda, and Melissa -- who all get engaged at roughly the same time. They are giddy with excitement, and head out to "The City" for a night of epic celebration. That night doesn't go exactly according to plan (one of their unseen friends ends up with a broken foot), but a few weeks later, they find themselves back at the bars.

This time, their story intertwines with that of Frank and Eddie, a couple of friends who are also out for a night of drunken fun on the town. All of the characters have reached the point where they can't forget their pain, but a lot of their usual reservations have been suppressed.

That leads Marnie (Sara Marsh) and Frank (Kris L. Nelson) to make an immediate connection. As the two escape from their friends, they share an instant bond. Marnie has come to the realization that marriage to her fiance would be a mistake, but she lacks the courage to stop the ball that is already rolling. Frank is pining for a woman who left him more than a year ago, but hopes the spark he feels with Marnie is more than just the drink talking.

Through the play, we get to see these characters at their most vulnerable. Melissa's engagement has ended, and that has left her bitter, angry, and desperate that the others go off without a hitch. Eddie and Linda are mainly along for the ride, but they share their own insecurities. 

The vibe gets even more complex when Bob (Ben McGovern) arrives. He's the employer/friend of the women, and cold sober. He's the one person who can see just how mad the situation has become, but is unsure of what course of action to take.

The company features an extremely talented sextet of actors, all of whom craft rich characters. The vibrant interaction that Bock builds into the script gives them plenty of chances for sparkling action and funny dialogue. It's a great ride from beginning to end. Whether or not you want a drink after it is done is entirely up to you.


The Drunken City
Through June 7
The Lyric at Carlton Place, 765 N. Hampden Ave., St. Paul
For tickets and more information, call 612.724.5685 or visit online.