Review: Exchange Artists’ ‘Circle the Wagons’

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Review: Exchange Artists’ ‘Circle the Wagons’

Editor’s note: This article was originally published February 17, 2014

Editor’s note: This article was originally published February 17, 2014

A lot of things happen in cars: heart to heart conversations, adolescent rites of passage, intimate moments, prayer, meditation, rage…

Cars make up a large and often overlooked proportion of our everyday existence, and the Exchange Artists are inviting us to take a closer look at our relationships to our four-wheeled companions. Playing through March 3,and touted as a vehicular theatrical experience in eight parts, “Circle the Wagons” takes performance out of the auditorium and into bucket seats.

Eight short plays (five minutes each) take place in, around, and on cars. Audiences are enticed to hop into the back seat, the passenger seat, and even sometimes the driver’s seat, while the cast performs a series of touching, surprising, and delightful scenes written about cars.

In groups of three, we move between eight vehicles parked in front of Hyde Park Christian Church. In this series of short plays, we run the gamut of emotional experiences, and the energy inevitably stays high when the scenes are only five minutes long. Hopping from car to car, the show keeps us on our toes, and the cast offers some delightful dance-party choreography in between scenes.

With contributions from several local playwrights, “Circle the Wagons” offers up a range of voices and talents.

Two of Katherine Craft’s pieces stand out. “Charlotte and Charlie” gives us an inside perspective on one woman’s relationship with her car, and Anne Hulsman provides a touching performance. “The Hook” takes us back to our awkward and intimate moments of adolescent exploration – adding an exhilarating twist of urban myth. In it, Bridget Farr and Bradley Silman are charming in their return to teenage awkwardness. And although Craft’s piece, “Get in the Car,” made the feminist in me cringe, Zac Crofford and Katie Richter pair up for a sincere performance.

Gwen Copeland’s encomium to her mini cooper is absolutely charming, and Karina Dominguez recites her monologue with compelling exuberance.

The best pieces really focus our attention on our vehicular environment, and my personal favorites availed themselves of the opportunity to really talk to us about cars. For a few others, the setting seems more incidental than integral, and as a result, aren’t quite as compelling.

But overall, the novel format and venue make for a charming theatrical adventure outside the usual four walls.

“Circle the Wagon” continues through March 3. www.exchangeartists.org

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