And So It Goes by Dark & Stormy Productions, perming at the Grain Belt Warehouse

Sally Wingert, Sara Marsh, James Craven and Robert Dorfman in And So It Goes. Photo: Melissa Hesse.

Sally Wingert, Sara Marsh, James Craven and Robert Dorfman in And So It Goes. Photo: Melissa Hesse.

What a cast!

Dark & Stormy Productions features super-talented actors performing on a minimal set (the program for And So It Goes – D&S performing at the Grain Belt Warehouse, 77 13 Ave NE – doesn’t even list a set designer).

The Grain Belt space is intimate to say the least. You can smell the artists, watch beads of sweat roll down their animated brows. If you wanted, you could reach out and touch them (not that you would). This gives And So It Goes unique power, enjoyed by very few other theaters (one thinks of Ten Thousand Things, and that’s about it).

(Kudoes, BTW, to the design team who, working on a shoestring, give And So It Goes real oomph: Mary Shabatura (lights), Lisa Jones (costumes), Aaron Newman (sound) and Katie Phillips (properties).)

And So It Goes features the acting stylings of Sally Wingert (the family fixer, drinking but never feeling that ineffable Williamsesque “click”); James Craven (precise and resonant, brilliantly analytical); Robert Dorfman (louche and weirdly loose, gleefully self-obsessed); and Sara Marsh (troubled, given to barely controlled hysteria, beautifully illogical). Brilliantly directed by Benjamin McGovern, these characters compel.

And they’re funny. Seriously funny, and herein lies the main reason to see this play

And So It Goes details the descent, from job loss, into poverty, then into homelessness, of Gwen and Ned. They deal with the mental illness and the horrifically violent death of their daughter. Death and desperation are everywhere.

And yet one laughs. And So It Goes is by no means a yukfest, but creepy comedy obtains throughout and this leans the play great substance. This is due to McGovern’s directorial prowess and mostly to playwright George F. Walker (one of Canada’s best writers)’s unique sensibility. His people never give in to whiny self-pity. Without the comedy he creates we would turn away; it keeps us focused, grabs us by the throat and refuses to let us go. Bravo.

Sara Marsh is also, it’s worth mentioning, the D&S artistic director. She deserves great credit, as do co-producers Frances Wilkinson, Jennifer Melin Miller and ArtSpace.

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

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