Brave New Workshop makes love one time too many

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The Brave New Workshop has cast its jaundiced eye once again on all things love- and romance-related. How to Make Love Like a Minnesotan III is almost surely the weakest of the trilogy (thus emulating the arc of the X-Men and Matrix films), and while it evokes more than a few laughs, it may well be time to put the series to bed. 

Mind you, I caught the show very late in its run (last Thursday night), in front of a smallish audience, but comedic alchemy was definitely not occurring. Part of what's at issue here are the high standards the Workshop sets for itself. In six years of covering their shows, I have yet to see one that qualifies as bad. I have seen a few, though, that didn't achieve total lift-off, and this is one. 

There are flashes of what this crew are capable of, though the greatest bulls-eye ("I Guess You'll Have to Do," an office-romance duet between Ellie Hino and Josh Eakright that positively oozes futility and sickly romantic compromise) is recycled from a previous show. A blistering parody of eHarmony probes similar territory, depicting a diseased relationship blooming its sickly petals through internet dating. 

But other material has a whiff of ideas going stale. A sketch about women's tempestuous behavior during menstruation can hardly be offered up as something fresh, and a gimmicky sequence about the sounds different people make during sex (accountants go ka-ching, get it?) lands with a decided thud despite the deployment of Joe Bozic's sturdy grinning perv persona. 

There are always moments of a transgressive spirit when this ensemble gets together, and this show is no exception. At one point Hino declares a dessert so creamy and delicious that she wants to fuck it, and Mike Fotis uncorks an offhand observation that he will never find perfect romantic bliss "because of the way I look." Hino and Bobby Gardner, via a weird photo essay, find the only real love of the night, by way of an impromptu crime spree. 

There are a couple of ironies in catching just about every BNW show of the past six years. The first is that the non-critic part of me has become an unabashed fan, eagerly settling into the theater's homely confines, loving that familiar ninety-minutes-with-intermission format. The second is that the critical part of me has gotten so particular that anything less than near-greatness feels like a wider miss than it would otherwise. How to Make Love Like a Minnesotan is an OK show, then, but at this point that truly doesn't feel like enough. 

How to Make Love Like a Minnesotan III: The Full Montevideo plays through May 8. Tickets are available at 612.332.6620 or by clicking here
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