forget me not when far away by Ten Thousand Things Theatre

Ron Menzel and Shá Cage in forget me not when far away. Photo by Paula Keller

Ron Menzel and Shá Cage in forget me not when far away. Photo by Paula Keller

In Kira Obolensky‘s delicious forget me not when far away, John Ploughman returns from an endless War (it feels like WWI, but who knows), limping into a town populated entirely by women. John is looking for Flora, his sainted ex, a woman who once sent him a letter, much read and, indeed, memorized. The memory of Flora’s femininity sustained him and now he wants, he fiercely needs, to find the real woman.

John is played by the sturdy Ron Menzel. Menzel is tall, statuesque, in pain – the limp. He galvanizes the women of this town. Do they wake up from a dream of war-driven independence, or does Ploughman, with his gritty masculinity, cause them to lapse into a dream? It is a tribute to Obolensky’s artistry that she raises this question without giving us facile answers or letting the gorgeous story falter. forget me not when far away is the most serious comedy I’ve seen in a long while.

“She was a balloon I wanted to puncture. Now I think she’s an angel.” Wow.

Does John find his beloved and longlost Flora? I’m not going to ruin this play for you. Just know that the ending of forget me not when far away satisfies and then some.

This is Ten Thousand Things and by now you must know the drill: no stagelights, board room intimacy, minimal set pieces, live music (created by the understated and always tasteful Peter Vitale). What you get for the price of your ticket (and it’s a bargain) is proximity to the finest performers in Twin Cities theater. They’re breathlessly close. You could touch them if you wanted. TTT lets you see artists like Sun Mee Chomet, Shá Cage, Annie Enneking, Karen Wiese-Thompson, Elise Langer, don wigs and transform themselves into a tasty series of characters. Their endless creativity astonishes (to a woman they are terrific) and delights.

They (and Obolensky) owe a serious debt to director Michelle Hensley who, to her credit, stages this play without any frivolous popping of the clutch. forget me not when far away is taken seriously. The pace is muscular; the play entertains without being breathless and with no fake look-at-us-ain’t-we-clever energy. Lovely.

“Wasn’t it something?” an audience person enthused after the show. “I had a great time.”

So will you.

TTT’s forget me not when far away settles into a paid run at the MN Opera Center on May 8, then plays at Open Book starting May 22. In addition, there are a number of “free public performances/reservations required.” Check out the Ten Thousand Things website for further info.

John Olive is a writer living in Minneapolis. His book Tell Me A Story In The Dark has just been published by Familius, Inc. For more info, please visit www.johnolive.net

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