Review "Minna" IS Theatre of Catastrophe!

Trap Door Theatre presentsminna


Written by Howard Barker

Directed by Nicole Wiesner

Thru February 13th

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Minna is a narcissist! Both the titled character and the play suffer from an overestimation of appearance and abilities. Trap Door Theatre presents Minna, a play… no… more like a gluttony of monologues safety pinned together, written by Howard Barker. The plot? Hmmmmm. A woman in love or hate with a blue or brown-eyed man, who may or may not be a murderer or a vampire. Straddling between 18th century and the 1950’s, the confusion continues with unexplained elements like two hanged people, a guy with a doll, naked gal, bearded dude in drag. There is a line between comic absurdity and meaningless farce. It’s those lines that get lost among the tiresome tirade of monologuers in Minna.

Who are all these people on stage? And why do they keep screaming? In the first act, the Count (played by John Gray) sits in the audience. Acting as a guide, intentionally or unintentionally, his amusing running commentary is helpful. His exclamations like “that must be Cupid!” identifies characters for the mystified audience. Unfortunately, his comment stops without explanation of why Cupid has been introduced to the plot. He also tries to prompt the audience laugh track. But there is nothing funny about being confused. Although Geraldine Dulex portrays Minna von Barnhelm with a forceful presence, it’s another fine line between witty elocution and obnoxious execution. Is Minna funny? Is Dulex talented? I just don’t know.

Director Nicole Wiesner prescribes to the “when in doubt, shout it out” theory of how to deal with excessive material to deliver. At rapid pace and volume, the cast trudges through their lines with a vigorous effort. They seem to really care about their characters. Someone needs to. Who are these characters? What are they doing? What it’s all about? Narcissists have an excessive need for admiration. Minna is going to be disappointed! In the program, Barker describes his work as “Theatre of Catastrophe” where “art is not digestible” and is “an irritant in consciousness.” What he said!

My play date, Tom describes the show as “experimental, energetic, and endless.”


Jane’s (1655 W. Cortland) is the perfect dinner locale for a Trap Door production. Trap Door can be accessed through a narrow passage between Jane’s two dining rooms. (It’s the 9 ¾ platform.) The menu has an extensive selection of vegetarian options. Trying to choose between a goat cheese stuffed chicken and a tofu burrito with a guacamole mousse, I pick the garden burger! What can I say? The bartender called it “the best in the city.” I didn’t want to miss out. I wasn’t disappointed by my impulsiveness. It was a great garden burger with a combination of mushrooms and wild rice. Very tasty!

Post show, we grabbed the first cab available. No after theatre drink needed, I was already feeling glassy-eyed, disoriented and bewildered sans alcohol. I knew where I was. I just didn’t know where I’d been and I couldn’t wait to pass out.  I wasn’t looking forward to the morning.  Theatre hangovers are the worst!

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