Jan. 22 Weekend Roundup: “The Race” & “Shrike”

The Race presented by the Wilbury Theatre Group
By Mark Binder
Directed by Brien Lang
Original music by Nikita Zabinski
Featuring Jim O’Brien, Rodney Eric López, and Jennifer Mischley
January 15 -31, 2021
Performances via Zoom

Written by Erin Lerch
Directed by Josh Glenn-Kayden
Sunday, January 24 and Sunday, February 7 at 2PM
Performances via Zoom

Review by Kitty Drexel

ZOOM — Over the weekend, we took in two New England productions. The Wilbury Theatre Group presents an interactive mindbender: The Race runs now through January 31. Fresh Ink Theatre presents readings for feedback of Shrike. Its next performance is on Sunday, February 7 at 2PM.  

Geek staff writer Gillian Daniels previously wrote about The Race HERE. Her response is accurate, thoughtful. There is not much more to add since Daniels’ review captures the experience so well. Folx that enjoyed Arlekin Players Theatre’s State vs. Natasha Banina will enjoy The Race.

What I learned by attending after reading Daniels’ review is that the actors alternate their roles with every performance. Jim O’Brien and Rodney Eric López are responsible for memorizing both sides of a modern script and also creating compelling yet opposing characters. Theirs is not an easy task. I found them believable and compelling.

Photo via The Providence Journal

Jennifer Mischley in her role as an unseen and mysterious hostess is eerie and also believable. It’s as if she isn’t even human.

The Race runs approximately 55 minutes long; it is interactive; the ending depends on the group-thinking of the attendees. It is highly recommended that audience members watch more than one performance to get the full experience. At the low price of $20 a ticket, attendees can afford an excellent show and a pizza.

Image via the Fresh Ink PR materials.

Shrike is set in the same dystopian United States timeline as Lerch’s previous work Crossing Flight: a tale of the post-apocalypse. It was produced by TC Squared Theatre Company in January 2018. Lerch and Glenn-Kayden released the multi-episode, lusciously queer, epically nonbinary podcast series The Legion Tapes last summer. It is available on Spotify and other podcast-y places. Knowing these works will assist the viewer in understanding Shrike but they aren’t necessary to its enjoyment.

Shrike is presented as a public reading that exists for the purpose of giving life to the script in front of an audience and so the audience can give the creators feedback. It is not a polished, uber-rehearsed performance. It is still an opportunity to watch some fun science fiction theatre.

The cast has good chemistry. The alien makeup is fun. In the talkback, we briefly discussed that a tutorial would not go unappreciated. 

Thoughtful viewers should stay after the February 7 reading for the discussion talkback. Your constructive feedback is welcomed. 

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