The Mineola Twins

The audience was a mix of metro theatre illuminati and Curious Theatre Company/Acoma Center patrons. The Pulitzer prize-winning playwright was in attendance. Director Chip Walton had done a fine job casting as always, and the scenery was evocative. The stage was all set for another smash hit—but the material failed to show.
Photo-collage of Elizabeth Rainer as Myrna and Myra
Elizabeth Rainer as
Myrna and Myra
Photo credit: Todd Webster

Paula Vogel, who had helped put the Curious Theatre Company on the map by leasing them rights to How I Learned to Drive in 1999, had once again delivered a regional premiere, this time The Mineola Twins. But unlike her earlier hits, this play offers little in the way of character and much in the way of caricature.

This could have been satisfactory had the commitment to satire held up, but regular bouts of telling, not showing, and pedantic philosophical discourses coupled with unfounded moments of seriousness lead to a stylish schizophrenia that persists to the final blackout. As Vogel admitted at the talk-back, she wants the audience to write the final scene, but this seems like a cop-out for want of natural, not ideological, conflicts between her characters.

Despite the shortcomings of the script, local favorite Elizabeth Rainer infuses the twins, good-girl Myrna and bad-girl Myra with much substance and lots of shtick, metamorphosing from one to the other in the time it takes her to walk out one door, switch wigs and brassieres, and walk in through another door. She is literally on stage for the entire performance, and her legendary high energy sustains the tempo of the production.

Photo of Elizabeth Rainer and Dee Covington
Elizabeth Rainer as Myrna
and Dee Covington as Jim
Photo credit: Todd Webster
This mirror-image theme is reflected in the other characters as well: Dee Covington does a slick turn as Jim, Myrna's overheated and cheating boyfriend, and Sarah, Myra's passionate and loyal lesbian lover (in whom we are provided the most real character of the evening); Garret Glass' Kenny and Ben, as the hippie and straight sons of the conservative Myrna and liberal Myra, are equally poignant; and Victoria Buchanan and Megan Meek provide choreographic synchronicity as FBI agents and nurses.

After 21 re-writes, the lack of catharsis in The Mineola Twins must be attributed to the plot being driven by the ideologies and buzz-words of the last half of the 20th century rather than by the unique, heartfelt motivations of those who lived through it. The ending feels contrived, and lacks authentic commentary on the bipolar struggles that define the play: whether the twins destroy themselves or reconcile, the story should be theirs, not the agenda of the playwright's sexual politics—it should have been Myrna and Myra in bed or dead.

The Mineola Twins runs through February 15th. 303-623-0524.

Bob Bows


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