Thunder River Theatre opens 21st season with ‘The Mineola Twins’
IF YOU GO...
Who: Thunder River Theatre Company
What: ‘The Mineola Twins’
When: 7:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, Oct. 2-3 and 8-10; 2 p.m. on Oct. 4
Where: Thunder River Theatre in Carbondale
How much: $25 for adults, $17 for 20-30-somethings and $14 for full-time students. Tickets available online at www.thunderrivertheatre.com.
With the country on the cusp of a presidential election in a divisive political arena, “The Mineola Twins” could not be staged at a more poignant time.
The Paula Vogel play opens Thunder River Theatre Company’s 21st season today and runs through Oct. 10. It follows the lives of two polar opposite twins, Myra and Myrna, from the Red Scare through the first Bush administration. The play is politically and socially charged, with a lot to say about sex and gender, but perhaps the most intriguing accomplishment of the piece is its ability to illustrate the similarities between characters who, on the surface, seem to have nothing in common.
“It’s interesting because throughout the play you see Myra and Myrna repeating the same lines, and it’s very intentionally done,” said Brendan Cochran, who plays Ben and Kenny, the sons of Myra and Myrna, respectively. “All of our characters have these lines that carry through between the two of them, and despite all this division between the two sides, you really do have this shared humanity. You see the same family concerns, the same concerns about day to day life. They’re trying to make relationships work and do the best they can. They’re just coming at it from these radically opposite approaches.”
Director Sue Lavin said she was drawn to “The Mineola Twins” because of its fearlessness in commenting on social and political issues.
“I love women’s work, and I love plays that deal with social issues,” Lavin said. “Paula Vogel raises a lot of questions about gender, about equality, about equality of the sexes, about gender stereotyping, about sexual roles, about sexuality itself. So it’s a very provocative play, and I’ve been directing for over 40 years, so I’m attracted to works that are provocative and interesting and will leave the audience a little startled.”
Despite the heavy subject matter (or perhaps because of it), “The Mineola Twins” is a comedy.
“It’s really easy to be like, ‘These are serious issues, and don’t laugh at it,’” said Missy Moore, who plays Myra and Myrna. “But because they’re so heightened, you kind of laugh at the absurdity of it.”
But behind every good joke is a bit of truth, and even though “The Mineola Twins” was written 10 years ago covering eras as far back as the 1950s, it still deals with issues that are making headlines today.
Myra eventually comes out as a lesbian, and in 2015, the LGBT community is still fighting for equal rights and protections. Myrna ends up bombing a Planned Parenthood, and in addition to that threat of physical violence, the chain of women’s health clinics is being threatened by lawmakers who want to reduce its funding. Arguments are being had constantly over the content of textbooks in public schools, mirroring a monologue by Myrna, who takes issue with the push for “multiculturalism” to be included at the expense of Anglo-centric words.
“It doesn’t really hammer the head over political policies, but we’re still fighting for women’s rights,” Moore said. “We’re still fighting for civil rights, and we’re in a political age where it’s almost to the absurd.”
The real accomplishment of “The Mineola Twins,” though, is the humanity given to all the characters.
“Despite the fact that you will hear political opinions and beliefs in the play that are very extreme, I think all the characters have great depth of humanity to them,” said Cassidy Willey, who plays Jim and Sarah. “They are all passionate, and you really do feel for each character. I think Paula Vogel did a great job of giving humanity to the other side, whichever the other side is for you.”
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