theater

Orange Flower Water. Beth Youngquist (Jennifer Blagen) dreams of her future life with her adulterous love, fantasizing about a car ride home from the grocery store with their young child who doesn’t yet exist but whom they will name Lilly. Big, fluffy white snowflakes fall around them, she imagines, and Lilly spills orange flower water, recently purchased to make sugar cookies. The potency of the fragrant water forces Beth to open the windows, even on a cold winter day. But something is delightful about the moment, and everyone is giggling and happy.

Such fantasies create delusion among the miserable and weak-spirited. How else can we explain the turmoil created by adulterers? As justification for their debauchery, fantasies turn into reality, and the fantasy world they have now entered no longer appears as magical as it had from the other side.

Such is the subject of Craig Wright’s new play Orange Flower Water, which opened this past weekend at the Jungle Theater. This is a subject that makes me cringe in horror and shrink into my seat. Naturally, I became sucked into their destructive lives, much like viewers of soap operas are reeled into the obsessive behavior of watching their favorite, and often hated, characters ruin their own lives and those around them. There’s just something strangely fascinating about it. Although I’ve never seen a scene in a soap opera nearly as beguiling as one in Orange Flower Water, in which Cathy Calhoun (Amy McDonald) mounts her husband and rides him to orgasm after finding out he’s been cheating. Nevertheless, the play’s serious plot is complemented with timely doses of humor from the talented cast. Wright’s script is written decadently, but with sweet touches balancing out the bitter, such as a scene in which a pharmacist, played by David Goranson, attempts to seduce Youngquist with an elaborate, theological discussion of atheism. “Beth, there is no God,” Goranson explains desperately.

This skill at crafting a literary mixture of misbehavior and oddball comedy will serve Wright well in his next job: He is moving from the Twin Cities to Los Angeles to work as a scriptwriter for HBO’s highly regarded Six Feet Under. Outside of the Jungle Theater on opening night, Craig deligtedly told stories of his misadventures in Hollywood and Nashville, where he regularly commutes to work as a songwriter. “I’m going to become a monster.” he boasted, but then corrected: “or more of a monster.” (Amy Danielson)

 

Orange Flower Water plays through August 25 at the Jungle Theater, (612) 822-7063.