Dog and Pony Theatre Company presents
The Twins Would Like To Say
At Steppenwolf Garage Theatre
1650 N. Halsted
Thru April 25th
Running Time: Sixty-five minutes with no intermission
This is a review about a play with multiple stories that starts with my story.
First, I would like to say…
In May 2008, I went to see my friend Josh in the play As Told By The Vivian Girls. It was a promenade play, which means the audience moves through the action. Simultaneous scenes were occurring throughout the Fullerton Lakefront Theatre building. After ten minutes, I turned to James and said “how long do we have to stay because I don’t get it?” We stayed and at some point everything shifted for me. I finally got it! The elaborately choreographed production is still one of my favorite theatre experiences ever. It was amazingly innovative. Josh recruited me to support his company and now I’m on the Board of Directors of the Dog and Pony Theatre Company. Since I am not getting paid for this blog entry and I won’t get a cut from ticket sales, I initiate this review with the same bias I reserve for all my favorite theatre companies in Chicago. They are my favorites for a variety of reasons… storytelling ability, big dreams on small budgets, the feeling I get on arrival. But because they are my favorites, my expectations are higher. After all at the end of the play, I’m still just an opinionated person that likes to be entertained!
Now, The Twins Would Like To Say…
The Dog and Pony Theatre Company, in conjunction with the Steppenwolf Visiting Company Initiative, presents the world premiere of The Twins Would Like To Say. Written and directed by Seth Bockley and Devon de Mayo, The Twins Would Like To Say is based on the true story of June and Jennifer Gibbons. The Gibbons girls are identical twins growing up in Wales in the 1970’s. They dress alike. They walk alike. They talk…to none. June and Jennifer make a pact to live in unison and silence. For over twenty years, they communicate to others only through written stories of Pepsi addiction, disco tragedy, and car accidents involving Malibu blondes. The Twins Would Like To Say is a sixty-five minute glimpse into a secret sisterhood that begins as a girlish whim and escalates full throttle to an adult execution. It’s the movies Nell with flashes of Carrie as performed in mime by the Olsen twins.
The Twins Would Like To Say is multiple stories within a play. The sagas are the fantasy tales written by the twins. The fiction is spliced in with real snippets of the Gibbons family life. After a brief introduction in the lobby, the audience is ushered into the theatre. Life-size panels move back and forth to establish scenes of illusion and reality. Throughout the show, the audience has options to follow one line of action or the other. I stick with the twins. Without speaking a word, their synchronized oddity says it all. They redefine ‘giving someone the silent treatment.’ Their real life plays out in seemingly avoidable disconnection with people. One particularly heartbreaking moment is a parent imposed time out separation. It’s the weaved in illustrations of the girls’ penned creations that keeps The Twins Would Like To Say from becoming a dysfunctional family downer.
The creative team, led by Bockley and de Mayo, use a myriad of techniques to entertain. Puppets, shadowboxing, disco balls, the twins’ fantasies come to life with visual aids. With their writing, the twins answer the question ‘what are they thinking?’ Dad is a tyrant. Boy next door is hot. California is the best place to live. Disco dancing is a coked up mess. Their delusional state is interpreted by the inventive design team and talented ensemble. The result is a whirlwind of activity that unless you know the basic storyline might be a blur of chaos. Having read this review, you have unmuddled your experience already. A final tip stay east if you prefer a happy ending. The Twins Would Like To Say is an original theatre experience provoking profound thoughts of ‘what would happen if I didn’t say anything?’
Lastly, my friends would like to say…
Bill: “I enjoyed it!” Roger: “Over my head!” Dick: “crazy, weird, clever” and James: _________ (James is protesting my review because of my board affiliation) .
WAITING FOR THE SHOW
And one more thing, I’d like to say… No matter how you slice it Marcello’s, four flatbreads do not feed 12-15 people. Change your catering menu!