Review | Park & Lake: a hoot and a half

Ten Thousand Things; various venues (check the TTT website), through March 11

Kimberly Richardson, George Keller, Stephen Cartmell and Luverne Seifert in PARK & LAKE. Photo by Paula Keller.

What gives with all these outré comedies currently gracing stages in the twins? Two Mile Hollow. 21 Extremely Bad Breakups. Noises Off. And now the latest offering from Ten Thousand Things: Park & Lake. Are the sanctimonious clowns in Washington getting to be too much? Do we need real clowns, genuinely creative clowns, actors iow, to make up for them?

Park & Lake features the usual TTT suspects. What the hey, I’m going to name them all: Karen Wiese-Thompson, George Keller, Kimberly Richardson, Stephen Cartmell, Luverne Seifert, Eric “Pogi” Sumangil, Thomasina Petrus, H. Adam Harris. The play was created by the cast, with playwright Kira Obolensky riding herd. It was co-directed by the soon-to-retire (and we’ll seriously miss her) Michelle Hensley and Mr. Seifert. Additional material was provided by Sun Mee Chomet, Joy Dolo, Kurt Kwan and I’m leaving plenty of folks out.

Lots of creators! And Park & Lake‘s lack of focus reflects this. The plot, such as it is, has to do with the efforts of the fictitious car wash’s wonderfully harried employees to exercise their right of first refusal and buy the business from the new corporate owners. This story is not, ahem, well, you know, imo, entirely convincing.

But who cares! This is terrific stuff and the terrificness derives entirely from the creativity of the cast, all of whom, I believe, have worked extensively with TTT in the past. The lean and lovely Richardson, as always, steals the show. Cartmell, who displays the charisma of a hoarse groundhog, made me giggle. Wiese-Thompson’s approach to multiple casting (a TTT signature) is marvelous, and ditto Seifert’s wig, and Harris’s bible-like copy of The Complete Works Of James Baldwin, and Sumangil’s cheerful parsimoniousness, and Keller’s grin, and Petrus’s tuneful earnestness. Wow.

Must I mention that Park & Lake, like all TTT shows, is performed in non-theaters (board rooms, conference rooms, church basements (see the Ten Thousand Things website for specific info), and that there are minimal set pieces, and no lights…? Also, Park & Lake features some very effective music and SFX created, if I’m reading the program correctly, by one Theo Langason.

So. See this play, not for the plot, but for the resourcefulness and the agile presence of the actors. You’ll be happy.

John Olive is a writer living in Minneapolis. His book, Tell Me A Story In The Dark, about the magic of bedtime stories, has been published. Please visit John’s informational website.





1 comment for “Review | Park & Lake: a hoot and a half

  1. February 19, 2018 at 9:55 pm

    I wonder when Michelle Hensley’s official departure date is. We at HWTS will miss her terribly. She was the most consistently intelligent and intense director around. I hope we’ll be able to see her free lance work. Gosh, maybe she can work with an actual lighting designer!


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