How do you feel about romantic comedies?
|Photo by Mike Pingel|
I, for one, love them unabashedly. I used to feel ashamed of this, but no more. It's HARD to write a script that is equal parts funny, sweet, tense, winsome and winning (don't believe me? You try it). Good romantic comedy is a genre that has never received enough respect; done well, it can tell us all a little truth about the human condition and provide something beautiful to lift our spirits at the same time, and that's a service we need in our troubled world now more than ever.
So what if I told you that tonight I saw a beautiful new-to-me romantic comedy named Electricity that deserves everyone's attention and only plays in the Twin Cities for one more night? I hope it would motivate everyone to show up and give it a shot - I think you'll be surprised how much you like it.
Let me tell you a little more. Electricity was beautifully written by Terry Ray (who also stars in the show) and tells the story of two men named Gary and Brad who reconnect in 1983 at their 10 year high school reunion. They are the only two gay men who grew up in their small town high school class, and reliving their memories is painfully awkward but reveals some stirring truths that build a surprisingly deep, instant connection between both men. For the next 90 minutes the play takes us through successive reunions - first 20 years, then 30, then 40 - and revisits the relationship between Gary and Brad at each interval. They grow a little grayer, a little older, and a little more complex at each meeting, revealing deeper layers of the importance of their relationship with each other, the pain of their experiences as gay men living through (and literally surviving) the horrific AIDS crisis and small town homophobia, and the amazing ways society can evolve to support formerly marginalized populations. It's a stirring evolution, one that moved me deeply more than once, and one that I think does a lovely job of honoring a specific gay experience while still telling a story that anyone of any sexuality can connect with.
Terry Ray's writing is the anchor of the show, and his sensitive, deft script has so much heart and character. His acting as Gary is not to be overlooked either, and it's clear he has a strong connection to the source material. Ray is easily the funnier of the two actors, and he brought so much charm to his part that immediately won me over. He is a slight caricature without being cartoony - a hard balance to find - and gives a beautiful, nostalgic performance that I thoroughly loved. Mel England is flawless as the messy, troubled Brad, and I was really blown away by his performance. The initial messy persona he exposes at the beginning of Electricity had me a little on edge, but England confidently leads the audience through Brad's transition into a reflective, flawed but considerate figure that was truly moving to see. I had the pleasure of briefly chatting with England after the performance and can say that he also deeply connects to the source material, and he brings every ounce of that passion and depth to his performance.
|Photo by Mike Pingel|
Ray and England's chemistry is the kind seen in the best of romantic comedies. Like some of my absolute favorite romantic comedy films - Silver Linings Playbook or Some Like It Hot or His Girl Friday or The Big Sick come to mind - Electricity is a fully realized romance in a sweet and sour package. It's well-balanced, witty and has a lot of important things to say without seeming preachy. By showing instead of telling us of the experiences of Gary and Brad, we are able to follow their life journey and invest in their intermittent romance. I truly believe this is a story that can appeal to any people no matter their sexual orientation, and I encourage all readers to make a date night of it tomorrow to show out for this stirring show.
|Photo by Mike Pingel|
Electricity only runs at Camp Bar for one more night, which isn't nearly enough time for local audiences to savor this delightful show. The proof is in the pudding: normally I like to give shows time to mentally digest a little so I can truly sort out my thoughts before writing about them, but I literally went straight home after viewing to post this review in hopes that the more time it was up, the more people could find to come to the final performance on July 14. I'd love to see these two talented performers close their show to a packed house - I think this is a story that really deserves a great audience and wide viewership, and where better to chill on a Saturday than the always delightful Camp Bar? Go a little early, order some tasty food from Keys Cafe next door and a strong cocktail from one of the several helpful barkeeps, and settle in for a riveting 90 minute performance that will fill your whole heart with love. For more information about Electricity and to buy tickets, click on this link.