Peggy Sue Dunigan


By - Oct 10th, 2007 02:52 pm
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In Tandem Theatre Company marks their 10th Anniversary with the Midwest premiere of HA! Along with this premiere, the company also debuts their permanent residence at Tenth Street Theater, a few steps underground below a red brick church on Wisconsin Avenue near Marquette University.

By opening weekend, In Tandem had finally received temporary occupancy. But even with unfinished features, the high ceilings, cathedral arched doorways and comfortable in-the-round theater will certainly provide the now-established troupe with an elegant space enabling their mission to enlighten, inspire, provoke, and entertain.

Rich Orloff’s HA! pursues these themes with three distinctly different yet connected acts of theater. As a playwright, Orloff has won multiple awards for his comedies, and was most recently honored with a 2003 Dramatists Guild Fellowship. This particular play represents his comedic timing, but with biting “a-ha” moments.

The first act sets a scene in ancient Greece, with the court of King Oedipus putting a politically correct spin on this unusual crisis in leadership. Act II moves to January 5, 1905, “when the snow in Russia turned red,” looking at this violent act from several points of view including the Russian aristocracy and their servants. The third act develops in a classroom, as a young student attempts to defend his ‘Master of Universe’ degree by designing a complete ecosystem named Earth. Its supreme element, the human being, is called before his professors, who will give him his final grade.

At first impression, the entire play appears to be an extended riff on Saturday Night Live, but beneath the humorous lines are buried truths and thoughts worth contemplating. The cast, playing multiple roles, inclues actors Parker Drew, Simon Jon Provan, Kevin Rich and Jacque Troy as well as supporting cast members Jack Lee and Michelle Waide, and together they carry the comedy well. Under Chris Flieller’s direction, time and thought is given both to both laughter and the more controversial subject material. In two hours, HA! creates smiles but also plenty of conversation afterwards if the audience is willing.

Several characters offer humorous “insight into the human condition,” asking “why human beings, given all the recipes and resources for paradise, were deemed impractical but at least biodegradable?” This series of comedic moments inspires and provokes, presenting a thoroughly happy 10th Anniversary for In Tandem. Celebrating in their new home on Tenth Street, HA! continues their theater traditions with wit and style.

In Tandem Theatre Company continues presentingHA!through October 21 at Tenth Street Theater, 628 North Tenth Street, Milwaukee. For information: 414.271.1371.

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