By Jason Crawford Samios-Uy
Approx. Running Time: 90-minutes with no intermission
Women have been fighting a fight for true independence for generations and in Fells Point Corner Theatre’s latest offering, The Mineola Twins by Paula Vogel, Directed by Lindsey R. Barr, gives us a glimpse into how two mostly identical twins, handled this fight from Eisenhower Administration all the way through Regan and Bush Administrations. Of course, as many twins go, they may be mostly identical on the outside, but couldn’t be more different on the inside.
Cassandra (Casey) Dutt’s Scenic Design works well with this piece and the use of levels and set pieces on a unit set keep things simple. Though the scene changes were clunky at times because of so many loose parts, the overall design is intelligent with a certain flow that helps move the action along rather than impede it.
Along with a splendid Scenic Design, Lighting Design by Michael Logue and Sound Design by Heiko Spieker work in tandem with each other and with Dutt’s design to carry us through the decades and locations seamlessly. Both Logue and Spieker give us engaging, subtle designs that blend well into the action and transport the audience into each scene. Kudos to Dutt, Logue, and Spieker for their wonderful technical efforts for this production.
Costume Design by Taylor Keating is on point. Taking the characters through this long period between the 50s and the 80s, Keating nails the time period for each scene sometimes subtly and sometimes over the top (in a good way), and every bit of it works for this story and production. Keating should be commended for her thoughtful and detailed design.
Lindsey E. Barr takes the reigns of this production and through her guidance and Direction, it’s clear she has a tight grasp on this material and presents it in humorous, but poignant way that is engaging and entertaining. You will be rooting for one of these characters, if not all, before the evening is through. The material can get a little pretentious and surreal, at points, but Barr presents it in an easy to follow fashion that stays true to the story but reflects her own vision. My hat’s off to Barr for a job quite well done.
Moving on to the performance aspect of this production, it’s safe to say this entire ensemble, though small in number, is big in heart and effort. All are giving their all to tell this twisted, funny story and all are to be applauded for their efforts.
Taking on more supporting roles is Rory Kennison and Kyla Tocopina as Psychiatric Aides/FBI Agents. These mostly silent characters create tension and conflict for the other characters and both Kennison and Tocopina are well versed in their roles, giving 100% effort. Both double as stage hands, helping move the set pieces on and off and in that, too, they do a bang up job.
Andy Belt takes on the duel role of Jim/Sarah and Corey Hennessey doubles as Kenny/Ben. Belt is well cast and takes these roles and makes them his own. He sees the tongue and cheek in Sarah and doesn’t try to play it over the top, which I very much appreciate when it comes to roles like this. As Jim, the older wandering fiancé, he’s level-headed but nervous and he portrays both beautifully. As Sarah, the same-sex partner of Myra, he’s a gem in a purposely horrible wig. Overall, he plays the contrast of comedy and drama wonderfully with a good grasp on both. Hennessey plays the younger male characters of Kenny, Myrna’s son, and Ben, Myra’s son, and both seem to have been born to the wrong mother and though Hennessey seems to have a good comprehension of this, there doesn’t seem to be much difference between both characters. His portrayal is authentic, just not very diverse with these two. That’s not to say he doesn’t do a terrific job with a great stage presence and confidence that is required.
Ally Ibach as Myrna/Myra, The Mineola Twins themselves, is the definite standout in this production. Not only does she take on two very different characters who look alike and are actually very similar, once she hits the stage, she keeps going until the end. She has a very tight grasp on this material, her characters, and the dialogue, which she delivers naturally and with ease. The contrast between the two twins is clear and consistent and her confidence a gives her a strong stage presence making for a stellar performance, overall. She’s certainly one to watch in this production.
Final thought… The Mineola Twins is a quirky, entertaining look at how one particular set of twins, who happen to be opposites in personalities, have navigated through life and decades of female independence. From teens to middle-aged, we see how two people who share genes and a face can grow to think so differently but always have a certain connection. It’s a well put together production, the performances are top-notch, and it’s a fitting addition to Fells Point Corner Theatre’s current season. Get your tickets now, if you haven’t already.
This is what I thought of this production of The Mineola Twins at Fells Point Corner Theatre.… what do you think?
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