Theater Spotlight: How to Make Love Like a Minnesotan: Sleepless in Shakopee

courtesy of Brave New Workshop

How's that post-election, post-inauguration hangover treating you? Yeah, I know: It's too soon to tell. While the dust clears, though, the Brave New Workshop has wisely taken a hiatus from the political realm and focused an entire show on matters of the heart (and the various physical zones to which it is directly connected). The sketches veer between the giddy realms of anticipatory desire and the complicated aftermath of playing out romance over the long plains of time (comedy and tragedy, after all, being two sides of the same mask). The six-member ensemble has achieved a welcome cohesion: They perform with a palpable ease, and the comedic personae fit together with few seams showing. Lauren Anderson robot-dances with a colander on her head as a weird personification of internet dating (coming round a back alley to make the point that amorous compatibility is alchemy, not science), then later tortures Joe Bozic in a batshit-nuts bedtime sequence that rings true for anyone who has ever shared a bed for any length of time. Ellie Hino later embellishes her twisted nice-girl image with a turn as a raging, ovulating thirtysomething who sends Bobby Gardner cowering in incoherent fear. (Earlier, the two depict a couple who cohabit, vacation with one another's families, and procreate, all the while maintaining that they're not in a committed relationship. So much can change after a short intermission.) By the end, we're struck by the fact that we haven't heard mention of a single politician, and even pop-culture references were brief and fleeting. Directors Katy and Caleb McEwen have steered this work exclusively into the realm of how men and women obsess over, love, endure, tire of, rediscover, take for granted, and generally co-exist with one another. It's no warm and fuzzy affair, but by the end there's a welcome nod at the big picture, courtesy of Mike Fotis's final line. We walk into the night reminded that all things pass, that love is indeed the answer, and that we remain deeply ridiculous creatures.

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