As part of this year’s Anti-Depressant Festival at The Brick Theater the troupe Ten Directions is presenting “…And The Fear Cracked Open.,” which follows on the heels of their award-winning “Bouffon Glass Menajoree.” While I haven’t seen the company’s parody of that American classic their latest piece about a Minnesota couple’s journey from meeting cute, to moving in together, to tackling the domestic drama of unpaid bills and infidelity, makes me wish I’d seen “Bouffon Glass Menajoree” instead if only for the blueprint Williams’ drama would have provided.
To their credit writer/director Terri Garrett and writer/puppeteer Will Wolf are chock full of ideas, beginning with naming their lead characters Terri – played by an overenthusiastic, too button cute Becky Byers – and Will, embodied by a more laidback Gavin Starr Kendall. The show is centered around Terri and Will and the everyday trials and tribulations of their heterosexual monogamous relationship, but makes liberal use of film footage (both home movie and animation) projected on a back screen, a giant puppet that plays Terri’s mom Amy, masks, and even a musical number about pregnancy. The problem is that all these innovative ideas are just that. “…And The Fear Cracked Open.” is still a concept at heart, a rough outline with broad notions being bandied about in lieu of being followed through with to create a fully developed production. Simply put, it’s a sketch rather than a painting peopled with flesh-and-blood characters, with in-the-moment actors truly listening to one another, and that we in turn can feel connected to.
“A physical representation of my own personal hell,” is how Terri describes the ball made of rubber bands that she’s painstakingly assembled through the tedium of her day job. Now if only the play’s sum added up to something more than its many imaginative parts.