Misfits Theater Company: Reach
Amanda Berg Wilson • August 24, 2016 • Boulder Fringe Festival •
In the first five minutes, it is clear that the Misfits’ values are not on production elements–the guiding visual aesthetic of Reach is only-what-is-essential, and the space the Fringe has put the Misfits in brings nothing extra to the table.
It seemed to me that what The Misfits wanted to highlight in this production was the acting and the writing. So that’s what I really dug into as an audience member.
It was refreshing to do so, reminding me of some of my favorite acting classes, and I mean that as a compliment. It was great to sit back and just watch Reach’s two actors bring the script alive, without anything but the text (and a few necessary props) to buoy them.
The story of Reach takes place in New Orleans a year after Katrina. Leila (Elizabeth Kirschmeier) and Jordan (Drew Hirschboek) are exes, and since their relationship has ended, Leila has relocated to New Orleans while Jordan has remained in Chicago. We discover that Leila’s husband, a cop, has been in a coma since almost drowning in the flood, and Leila’s not doing well. Jordan has come to New Orleans under the auspices of work, but we also soon find out he has ulterior motives.
The piece is the journey of watching whether or not these two will come back together; a journey only meaningful if we’re deeply invested in the characters. I would say that Reach works hard to but does not quite get us all the way invested. This is a combination of the writing and the acting. Hirschboek does an admirable job of making Jordan warm and three-dimensional, but the text does not give him particularly supportive writing to help us understand why he so desperately wants to break through to Leila. And Kirschmeier, who absolutely nails the feistiness and defensiveness of Leila, doesn’t entirely draw out her vulnerability or charm, which highlights the weakness of Jordan’s objective.
Nonetheless, the final moment of Reach is quite moving and satisfying, even in its open-endedness, as are many moments in the play along the way.
You can experience Misfit Theater Company’s Reach at the Pine Street Church Community
Hey Fringe! Amanda Berg Wilson here. I’m a local director and performer and the Artistic Director of The Catamounts, a Boulder-based theater company. I like my theater bold, non-realistic, and smart. I don’t love living room plays about white people and their problems, I loathe the hackneyed and the maudlin, and I’m (unfortunately as a Fringe goer) not a huge fan of the one-person show, especially if it’s just an excuse for an actor to try out all their accents. Just so you know where my sensibility lies as I write about Fringe shows.