Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Review of Brown Paper Box Co.'s The Baltimore Waltz,

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called The Baltimore Waltz. It was by Paula Vogel and it was directed by Ed Rutherford. It was about a woman named Anna (Jenna Schoppe) who had Acquired Toilet Disease. That doesn't sound like a thing--because it isn't. She only has a few months to live so she decides to go on a European vacation with her brother Carl (Paul Michael Thomas), who is gay and works at a library where he has been fired. The rest of the play is them having fun in Europe on the way to a doctor who said that he could help her. All the people that they meet are played by The Third Man (Ian Geers when I saw it but usually Justin Harner). (I just saw The Third Man last night and remembered lots of nods to the movie and funny jokes from the play.) This play is about family, fantasy, and facing facts. I really enjoyed this show. There is a really awesome twist at the end that I'm not going to give away, so you'll have to go see it yourself.

This play doesn't seem like it would be a comedy because it is about someone dying slowly from a disease. But it actually is pretty hilarious, which when something bad finally happens makes it even sadder. The Third Man was basically like the comic relief. Even though there were other moments that were funny in the play, he was the main drive of the comedy. The doctor that they had called upon to help her get better was not the most sane of people. While he was talking to her he kept trying to resist drinking her pee in the most hilarious way possible. He would see his hand go toward the pee, and then realize what he was doing and try to stop himself by slapping his own hand away, which makes him look more insane. Eventually he cannot resist his hand anymore and he drinks the pee, which is one of the more disturbing but hilarious things I have seen in my life. Anna has many sexual encounters in Europe; each of her partners is played by The Third Man. One of the men is Dutch and has beautiful blond locks that looked like straw, because I think it was. And he was wearing slipper-clogs (costumes by Jeanine Fry) which is the most "fashionable" thing I've ever seen in my existence! He told a story about when he was a teenager and he was hanging out with all the cool kids and he kept saying all these things that sounded sexual even though they weren't. What makes it so funny is number one her face whenever he says any of those words and also his accent (dialect coach Catherine Gillespie) which was so exaggerated, but in the best way possible. The Third Man does basically every European accent. It is hilarious to see him switch between all the various accents.

The brother-sister relationship is really beautiful. They seem like best friends and they seem to take comfort in seeing each other and being around each other. I think the way that they communicated with each other was very truthful. I found it slightly unusual that they were so open with each other about their sex lives, but I think that was meant to show us how close they had always been to each other. They seem to have this connection where they always want to take care of each other. The characters seem even more empathetic when you find out what has been really going on.

There were a lot of moments that hint at what the ending is, and I think that is one of the very cool things that is incorporated in this show. Like Anna and Carl keep talking about this childhood bunny and they keep slinking around with it. They keep passing the bunny back and forth, and she keeps thinking he is smuggling things. You don't have any idea why they are doing that at the beginning, but at the end of the play you realize what that meant. At the beginning they have this moment where they switch seats when they are getting bad news, which seems just like bad blocking, but then you realize what it really means and how important it is to the entire story. At the end, you see how many things you hadn't noticed before. It is kind of like watching the play again in your head, only much shorter. They also do a slide show which is the biggest sign that something is not quite right about the way we are seeing the play. It is the biggest sign because all the slides don't really seem quite right.

People who would like this show are people who like close siblings, slipper-clogs, and smuggle bunnies. I thought this was a great show. It is a very complicated puzzle but it is a lot of fun to watch. I think people should go see this show. It is funny, heartbreaking, and weird in the best way. I really loved it.

Photos: Zach Dries

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