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Tuesday, 14 June 2011 21:50

Duck and Cover as you Watch the Battle Between The Mineola Twins

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Written by Pulitzer Prize winning playwright, Paula Vogel, The Mineola Twins follows the relationship of Myra and Myrna, twin sisters who work tirelessly to prove their polarizing differences, yet ultimately are unable to erase the permanence of the genetic tie that binds.


Playwright Vogel uses Myra and Myrna as a vehicle for tracing the origins and manifestations of the feminist movement, each woman representing opposite ends of the spectrum. For example, Myrna represents the iconic Barbie Doll-like girl of the 1950's, figure and all, who quickly conforms to the ideology that, above all else, she is to serve her future husband.

Counter to this is Myra, whose tough attitude and risky behavior functions as a rebellion from the social norms of hers and her parents' generation. While her "good girl" twin sister Myrna is saving herself for marriage, Myra is working on the second string of the high school football team. One sister is committed to following the rules; the other is committed to breaking them.

Playing these dueling sisters is actress and co-artistic director of Muddy Waters Theatre, Patty Ulrich. While Ulrich does an amazing job of distinguishing these twin characters from moment to moment, she is only able to reach performance nirvana while playing Myra. As Myrna; however, Ulrich has a tendency to over-perform this manic character and is ultimately unable to make Myrna accessible or believable.

Over the course of the decades-long tug of war we meet characters caught within Myra and Myrna's emotional cross fire. At the beginning of the play we meet Jim, played by actress Jamie Marble, who is infatuated and romantically involved with the buxom teenage Myrna. Frustrated with Myrna's prude and conservative ways, Jim is forced to fulfill his adult male needs by pointing his compass in the direction of Myra, adding more fuel to the animosity felt between the sisters.

Like her fellow cast mates, actress Marble has the challenge of playing two opposing roles, perhaps more so because she is charged with playing both male and female roles. Although Marble succeeds at portraying a horny man, she finds her performance stride later in the production as she plays Myra's girlfriend, Sarah.

Later in the play, Myra and Myrna raise their own sons who end up resembling the opposite sister they have worked so hard to denounce. Playing these sons, Kenny and Ben, is newcomer Andrew Kuhlman, whose commitment as an actor is evidenced by the level of detail and focus he provides each of his characters.

There are multiple themes playwright Vogel explores throughout this piece, so many that it becomes rather difficult to decipher the point she is trying to make. While the irony in The Mineola Twins is clear, the message is not. This adds a challenge for the actors, some of whom struggle in this production to find an anchor with which to consistently ground their characters.

Ultimately, it is in the hands of Director, Cameron Ulrich, to provide his wandering actors with a strong sense of purpose and meaning. There are several scenes in which the actors are moving, yet seem lost as they do so. This could be more of an issue with blocking rather than acting.  Regardless, it tends to distract and disrupt the focus of what already could be considered a hyperactive play. 

You can catch remaining performances of Muddy Waters Theatre's production of The Mineola Twins through June 26th at the Kranzberg Arts Center. For tickets and more information you may call 314-799-8399.

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