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Political parts

Box Wine Theatre’s “Raucous Caucus” production puts people over the Politics.
Actors Timothy Otte and Sarah Frazier tend to alterations in A Very Lovely Dress, the productions dramatic highlight.
Image by Courtesy Box Wine Theatre
Actors Timothy Otte and Sarah Frazier tend to alterations in “A Very Lovely Dress,” the production’s dramatic highlight.

What: Raucous Caucus

When: Today and Jan. 27

Where: Bryant Lake Bowl 810 W. Lake St., Minneapolis


It can be easy to curb any enthusiasm towards a work such as Box Wine TheatreâÄôs âÄúRaucous CaucusâÄù production. A scriptâÄôs balance of commentary and dramatic or comedic substance is a tough line to walk.

On a more basic level, waltzing into a production of unidentified political works rising from individuals of little authority tends to tease out the more jaded side of the viewer from the rise of the curtain.

All warranted pessimism aside, it is nice to be proven wrong on such things every once and a while. And Box Wine TheatreâÄôs current Bryant Lake Bowl production does just that.

âÄúRaucous Caucus,âÄù the fourth Twin Cities production for the local theater company, fires off seven 10-minute performances. The emotive tones of the works dance from dramatic to absurd. Moreover, those involved maintain that agenda was one of the lowest points of importance in developing the playbill.

âÄúIâÄôve seen political plays before where the issue that theyâÄôre talking about is something I agree with,âÄù Adam Sharp, co-artistic director of Box Wine Theatre, said, âÄúbut itâÄôs preachy and in your face and almost talks down to you.âÄù

So really what has come out of the organizing efforts is a collection of character pieces âÄî most of which allow their relative commentaries to rise with subtlety and without indoctrination.

âÄúIt was really a character study.âÄù Lesley J. Rice, a member of Box Wine TheatreâÄôs board of directors, said. âÄúYou saw these characters and what they thought and what they believed.âÄù

This perhaps explains why out of the seven performances, the dramatic pieces succeed as the greatest in regards to this use of coy commentary. In the productionâÄôs most powerful piece, D. Richard TuckerâÄôs âÄúA Very Lovely Dress,âÄù delicate blocking and sparse dialogue allow this comparatively minimal work not only to act as the emotional crux of the showâÄôs dramatic progress, but also approach the productionâÄôs most harrowing subject matter with crushing humanity.

âÄúWith this show, we wanted to include pieces that may even be in opposition to our own views,âÄù Sharp, who also wrote two featured pieces, said.

And while the comedic pieces are a bit hit-or-miss, Box Wine Theatre has managed to nail the deliberate pacing between the humorous and tragic. âÄúConcessions,âÄù Anil B. HurkadliâÄôs piece about a defeated congressman blamelessly flying off the handle, perfectly introduces the parameters for the productionâÄôs many personal and almost always fallible characters.

âÄúItâÄôs just such a great introduction,âÄù Bethany Simmons, co-artistic director for Box Wine Theatre said. âÄúIt really sets the stage for the rest of the performances.âÄù

Pieces like âÄúConcessionsâÄù or âÄúA Very Lovely DressâÄù are those that make this political overture worth seeing. Even though the whole exceeds its fumbling parts, there are still some very real and very relatable moments of internal confusion over the state of the modern world.

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