Breaking the Fourth Wall: Spin Cycle bends narrative structure and delivers a solid story | Theater | Bend | The Source Weekly - Bend, Oregon

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Breaking the Fourth Wall: Spin Cycle bends narrative structure and delivers a solid story


Spin Cycle, brought to Central Oregon by Innovation Theatre Works under the direction of ITW co-founder Brad Hills and starring Chris Rennolds, another co-founder, is a play that will appeal to both baby boomers and those who enjoy a modern twist on narrative storytelling. The play, with cast member Eileen DeSandre as the elderly mother of siblings Wendy (Rennolds) and Mikey, played by Derek Sitter, uses the technique of multiple asides, where each character addresses the audience, breaking the fourth wall between "us" and "them." Hills' light directorial hand enables each character the freedom to explore his or her own familial Sturm und Drang while literally staring right at us, causing the audience to empathize with the characters while doubting their narrative reliability.

Sitter, voted Hottest Teacher in the Source's recent Lust List, steals the show as a man with such a profound Peter Pan complex that we question his mental stability as he ogles his childhood Candyland game with the kind of rapt excitement that would ring false in the hands of a lesser actor. DeSandre holds our attention as she goes through several retellings of the same story, with us complicit in both her foibles and her truths. Even John becomes a character in his own right, the ghostly memory of her eldest child, killed in Vietnam 30 years before the play opens on Thanksgiving day to brother and sister dissidence reminiscent of a favorite Brady Bunch episode cranked on high. My favorite scene in Spin Cycle revolves around a slow dance between DeSandre in a 1940s-style flowered dress and Mikey uniformed as John, the war hero come back, half-phantom, half-flesh to waltz his mother around the living room before the fourth wall is yet again broken to disastrous effect.

With manifold exits and entrances and asides, special kudos should be given to stage manager Jared Rasic's ability to flawlessly track and light our characters without ever missing a beat. His spot-on lighting cues help the audience stay with a story that is at times so tangential it would be easy to lose the plot.

Spin Cycle will please anyone interested in the relationship between grown children and their elderly mothers, anyone with a fear of growing older and becoming obsolete and those who want to see a new form of modern storytelling that we don't always see in Bend.

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