If there ever were a sitcom for the stage, Mixed Blood Theater’s Crashing the Party would be it. The 80-minute comedy follows the same pattern as TV’s most beloved shows: the dysfunctional family, the odd mixture of larger-than-life characters, the snowballing of bizarre events, the happy ending. It’s a whirlwind of laughs, puns, surprises, false endings, and ridiculousness—in a word, it’s fun.
The idea for Crashing was born a year and a half ago over brunch. Married couple Josh Tobiessen and Sarah Rasmussen were talking big-stage classic comedies of the 1930s (think Arsenic and Old Lace) with a friend and decided to create a contemporary play using this same style. What resulted is a little bit Arrested Development and a little bit Some Like It Hot.
The story revolves around the surprise birthday party for the head of this wealthy household, David (Joe Minjares). A little background: David built his company from the ground up in order to give his family everything he never had. His spoiled sons, Arthur (Rolando Martinez) and David Jr. (Ricardo Vazquez), take this for granted: Arthur sits around watching Jeopardy in his pajamas all day, and recent college grad David Jr. turns down job offers because “the lighting was funny” in the office. Their mom, Catherine (Sally Wingert), spends her time “volunteering” and pampering her boys.
So, back to the party. David Jr. and his girlfriend, Britney (Rose Le Tran), have cooked up a big five-course dinner to celebrate, Arthur has hired a stripper, and Catherine has made reservations at La Belle Vie (the script is peppered with time-sensitive, local details)—10 minutes in and the mishaps have already begun. The fun continues when David gets home and announces he’s bought two one-way tickets to Morocco. Then Officer Franco (Ansa Akyea) arrives, presumably because he’s helping Catherine recover her stolen purse. Then David’s accountant, Eleanor (Laura Esposito), bursts onto the scene. Followed by FBI Agent Grant (Mo Perry). Well, you get the picture. Craziness.
One of the best parts about Crashing is how much life each actor brings to his or her role. Le Tran throws herself about the stage, a five-foot-nothing bundle of boundless energy—and highly entertaining to watch. Martinez has no qualms embracing his Chris Farley-like mannerisms. And when Akyea’s time to shine comes (you’ll know what I mean if you see the show—let’s just say he’s not who you think he is…), there is absolutely no inhibition.
While Crashing the Party addresses some of the economic and familial struggles of today, it’s more an outlet to poke fun than a channel to muse. Don’t read into it too much or you’ll miss the point: sometimes, you just need to take a step back and laugh if off.
Crashing the Party
Through March 4
First-come, first-serve seating (no cost); or reserve seats ahead of time for $15
Mixed Blood Theater, 1501 S. Fourth St., Mpls., 612-338-6131