Preservatives added

“The Museum Play” considers the dangers of love become obsession

by Greg Corradini

Formaldehyde and memories share a common purpose in the Red Eye Theater’s Midwest premiere of “The Museum Play.”

In this tight production, writer Jordan Harrison investigates why humans, such as museum curators, attempt to preserve and catalog life so meticulously.

What’s a better way to deal with an ex-lover?

Dump formaldehyde on him, create a museum exhibit of him and worship him night and day. Then, live your life out in unrealistic misery.

Jame (John Bolding), a dedicated museum exhibit designer, does exactly that to Vin (Severin Oman), his ex-lover.

But the museum where Jame works and exhibits Vin is not a normal one.

Instead, it is something of a symbolic jailhouse where the world’s socially inept live and relate to inanimate objects.

Lucy (Heidi Arneson) is the museum’s full-time security guard. But Lucy is full time in the sense that she has never left the museum. Her best friend is a stuffed wallaby.

Although Harrison’s open-ended dialogue and abrupt scene changes take some time to get used to, director Steve Busa paces the production and cast well.

With no intermission, the play swells to a ripe mysteriousness and then leaves the audience fearful that this ambiguous jewel-of-a-narrative just might end.