Sunday, August 23, 2015

Something 'fishy' at Tipping Point

To say I was stunned when I walked into Tipping Point Theatre last night would be an understatement. (My guest, a designer for Ford, was equally wowed.) Jennifer Maiseloff's impressive set for "Invasive Species" is not only an amazing achievement visually, the environment it creates to bring playwright Joseph Zettelmaier's quirky love story to life is well utilized by director Joseph Albright. My photo doesn't do it justice.

As I took my seat, though, an interesting optical illusion became visible - which was also observed by my guest. It's not easy to describe, but if you look closely at the photo, you'll see a very skinny vertical line rising from the stage between the ice chest and the taller bucket. That's a fishing rod, but from our vantage point, it looked like a seam between two large plates of glass separating the upstage "hill" from the rest of the set. In other words, it looked like there was a somewhat-curved two-part glass wall separating the stage - almost like a diorama you'd find in an exhibit at a museum of natural history. It was only after I spotted the reel that the illusion vanished.

I guess you had to be there - and seated where we were to get the full picture.

The show itself was delightful. Aral Gribble is always the master at creating lovable oddballs, and watching his character of fisherman Earl Hobbs evolve past his hurt and pain - thanks in large part to an ugly fish, I might add - is quite a treat. And never overshadowed by Gribble's powerful presence is Melynee Saunders Warren as DNR Officer Eden Selkirk, who is equally adept at working through her character's emotional ups and downs. (Selkirk's bombastic entrance and first encounter with the ornery Hobbs is priceless. To say they don't get along is my second understatement of the day.)

Equally impressive is Zettelmaier's script. I've been a fan of his work pretty much from the start of his career, and although I've missed a few of his latest works, his growth as a playwright continues to impress me. He's never satisfied with retreading old ground; instead, each play he crafts explores yet another slice of human nature - but with an eye that finds what others would likely miss. (Ordinary people become much more than that in his plays.) Joe has a handful of debuts coming up in the months to come, and I can't wait to check them out.

Unfortunately, "Invasive Species" closes today. So if you can, rush right out and get a ticket. And sit in row H if you can - and see if you too can spot the optical illusion!

Click here to check out Tipping Point Theatre's website:

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