Idiot’s Delight: a lovely rendering of this chestnut

Girl Friday Productions, performing at Park Square

Eric Knutson, Kory LaQuess Pullam, Adelin Phelps, Stacia Rice, John Middleton, Bonni Allen in Idiot’s Delight. Photo by Richard Fleischman.

The (unfortunately) late Archie Leyasmeyer would likely be the chair of the Girl Friday Productions board of directors. As one or two of you perhaps know, Archie taught (at the U) a survey of dramatic literature focusing on the kinds of plays in which GF specializes. Big plays. Weird plays. Seldom-if-ever-produced 1930s literary masterpieces. Street Scene, Camino Real, The Skin Of Our Teeth.

And now Idiot’s Delight (Girl Friday Productions, performing at Park Square, through July 23). Robert E. Sherwood‘s razor sharp political fantasy, set in a fictitious mountaintop retreat, shouting distance from Berchtesgarten, Switzerland and Lake Como. Italy is getting ready to attack France, which is preparing to bomb Germany, planning to invade Russia, setting its sights on Japan. Etcetera. Idiot’s Delight is a surprisingly prescient explication of the murderous insanity about to explode across Europe.

In the play, a number – 19 by my count – of helpless characters wash up in the swanky hotel, waiting, with barely concealed impatience, for the border to open and for the mythic train to start running. The train into their Futures. In the meantime, they interact, form alliances, fall apart, drink alcohol.

And wait.

Under Craig Johnson‘s firm direction, there are 19 delightful performances for you to revel in. I can’t wax enthusiastic about each one, but I have mention the two leads, John Middleton and Stacia Rice. No one does the 30s, nor wears a suit, like Middleton. He’s the play’s prime mover and he’s riveting. About Rice, I found myself scribbling, “cigar store Russian accent.” But then I understood that there’s a reason for this. Which I won’t share. Except to say that Rice is wonderful.

Also: Karen Wiese-Thompson as a frowsily focused scientist; Kirby Bennett as the overworked hotel owner; Eric Knutson as a powerful and stern Italian soldier; Kory LaQuess Pullam as the passionate Quillery; David Beukema as the delightfully smarmy Navadel. Enough. Everyone is wonderful.

So: see Idiot’s Delight. This is probably your one-and-only opportunity. You could rent the pretty-good movie, but this is the play. You must go.

Me, I’m just waiting for GF’s production of Strange Interlude.

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. John recently led a workshop of a new play, Dream State, at the Playwrights Center. Please visit his informational website.



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