It’s been a very, very busy weekend. Milwaukee Fringe Fest lands on the same weekend as Milwaukee Irish Fest and...this year Milwaukee Irish Arts has A LOT going on with the fest in its cozy, little theatre tent overlooking the water. In and amidst three other shows in and around Milwaukee this weekend, I managed to see one of two shorts programs that MIA put together this year.
Tiny Plays 2 is a program directed by Mitch Weindorf. There’s a lot of fascinating existential energy that’s rolling through the program, The program of brief interactions between iconic pairs is punctuated by whimsically strange and hauntingly poetic texts by Mark Cantan. The author suggests a few things that might be going on right now in Ireland as scenic changes are made. It’s a remarkably well-constructed, little theatrical adventure that feels cleverly buried behind all of the singing and dancing and carrying-on that goes on in and amidst the rest of the Fest.
The cast is stellar. Kyle Conner slides into a staggeringly charismatic Irish accent in the role of a man who has been asked to look at a few pictures in Brendan Griffin’s “Naked Photographs of my Mother.” Isaac Brust is emotionally intricate in his end of the comic short. He also makes a memorable appearance in an encounter on a path with an old man near the beginning of the program. Conor also manages a captivatingly nonverbal performance earlier-on in the brief program where he is...opening bills. (It’s a lot more interesting than it sounds. You kind of have to be there...and you should it’s a good program.) Brittany Boeche-Vossler punctuates that nonverbal piece beautifully with a bit of song. There’s a lot of young energy that MIA is bringing to the tent this year, but it’s nice to see some experience on the stage as well. David Ferrie and Kevin Callahan do a delightful, little bit of meaningful small talk in a milking barn in “Unrequited.”
Laura Monagle closes-out the program with a stunning monologue by Dermot Bolger that cuts straight to the heart of the metaphysics of theatre in a way that few scripts ever manage. Monagle is elegantly magnetic in the performance. It’s only then...only when Monagle finishes her deconstruction of everything under the power of Bolger that the weird confluence of different bits of comedy and drama turn into something magical. It’s really quite. exquisite and worth the price of admission to Irish Fest in and of itself, but y’know...there IS so much else going on as well, so it’s worth going anyway.
Milwaukee Irish Arts concludes at the Theatre Pavilion at Irish Fest today, August 20th. Tiny Plays 2 will be performed today at 2pm and 6pm. For more information, visit Milwaukee Irish Arts online.