Snapshot And Blank: Comic Book Theater. Kapow!

Maggie’s Farm Theater

Maggie’s Farm Theater, a cozy little space tucked into the Lennox Community Center in St. Louis Park, was just about the perfect space for the action-packed “Snapshot & Blank” by Todd Richardson, an homage to the playwright’s love of – and deep respect for – comic books.

This precursor to video games, you might say, required that the reader fill out the scene represented in a single square, then another and another. These slick, colorful little books set millions of youngsters’ imaginations churning, and catapulted dozens of superheroes (and villains) into our common vernacular.

So, what if you framed a plot-heavy story like that on a jewel-box stage? (Do you remember a lot of scenic elements in those comics? I don’t either. You remember the vibrant characters – and secretly coveted their super powers. Yeah, you did, you know you did.) What you get is those colorful little squares on the page zinging from one locale to another, pausing only to reveal the characters’ darkest secrets. Oooh! Meanwhile …

Jackson Garrett aka Snapshot, played by Matthew Stoffel, wears sunglasses to contain his superpower of blinding light that shoots from his eyes. Mona Blank aka Blank, played by Samantha Feinberg, can become invisible – a perfect fit for the mousy police lab technician-turned-superhero. Antonia Farrell aka The Ferret, (Phyllis Kirsch) can stop time, and Cherise Duvall (Anna Lakin) is simply a powerful seductress. Gotta have one of those.

All these performers were beautifully suited to their roles, as was the rest of the cast. But it was a lot to keep track of. In fact, there are so many names that it’s easy to get sidetracked from the action, particularly in the first act when you’re still trying figure out who’s who.

More clarity in the plot and among the characters would be the fundamental improvement I’d suggest. For example, the narrated tableau used intermittently was cleverly executed and fun to watch, but I had no idea what it referenced until later in the play.

Nevertheless, it has a rather ingenious plot, and even in my moments of confusion, I was still having a good time. The fight scenes were especially good crowd pleasers, and there were plenty of laughs, too.

All this was accompanied by a live band – electric guitars, of course! – a sound effects plot that was practically another character, and zingy lighting. Pure entertainment – just like comic books.

Produced and directed by Brad and Rachel Richardson with original music by Jesse Richardson.

Recommended!

 

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