Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Shana Wride Shines in Lisa Kron’s “2.5 Minute Ride” at Diversionary Theatre.

Yes, its Lisa Kron’s piece, but it belongs to Shana Wride now. Kron’s “2.5 Minute Ride” currently in an extraordinary solo performance by Shana Wride is the stream of conscious love letter to her Dad as she looks back on his past, his loves, his childhood ties, family, parents and her relationship to it all.

Hat’s off to Diversionary Theatre for bringing this emotionally charged, funny and heart-rending tale to San Diego audiences. Kron’s piece is a perfect selection for the Park Ave. location. It addresses all the issues that have become a Beacon for Diversionary. Fine assists come from Sean Fanning (scenic designer), Kate Bishop (Costume), Curtis Mueller (lighting), Bonnie Durben (properties)  and Melanie Chen (sound).

Shana Wride in "2.5Minute Ride"
Kron’s 80 or so minute autobiographical narrative played at the La Jolla Playhouse in 1996. She performed the piece back then I remember her skills as a storyteller. But that was long ago and now we have a very different take with Wride’s retelling.

With direction by Rosina Reynolds (herself the recipient of the Craig Noel Award for Best Solo Performance in her portrayal of Golda Meir in “Golda’s Balcony) Wride’s perfect performance of Kron’s story is filled with layers of love, surprise and dedication. I can think of no better messenger than Wride’s Bravura tour de force performance to bring home the goods.
Kron’s story takes us on two journeys where humor and horror are juxtaposed on each other. Traveling on their own tracks and merging seamlessly at certain intersections they offer tidbits about her mother, her brother and some family idiosyncrasies that are funny and typical of most Jewish family mishegashes. Added to the obvious, the stories are poignant almost to teary. It is an experience of a lifetime watching and living vicariously through her eyes.  

One is her trip to the Cedar Point Amusement Park in Sandusky, Ohio where every year by ritual, her family heads out for three days, in three separate vehicles. One day is the travel day, one day is spent sampling the food and where she ultimately rides the mean streak rollercoaster, The Mantis, a new standup rollercoaster, with her near blind, diabetic father.  

The other is a trip she took with her father to Poland and Germany to revisit his birthplace, to see where her grandparents lived, grew up and later a visit to their final resting place in Auschwitz.

Taken on school trip to Auschwitz by Eytan Argavani
From her Midwestern Jewish background, to her partner of choice, to her brother’s Orthodox wedding (side splitting funny bit about the wedding plans and Lisa and her partner at the time, to be bridesmates) to the Germany trip, to her fathers job as a G.I. (he had to get himself declassified as an illegal alien), whose job it was to interrogate captured Nazi’s, Wride tells it as if it belongs to her.

 “I felt I had made a profound connection with him on this trip” …and that “up until this time everything in my life was a shadow. “The only true emotional reality was what happened to my father and his family 50 years ago”.

“I have a checklist in my head; things I have to do before my father dies. Number one: Look him in the eye and tell him that I love him. “Wow! That hit home!

Sitting through Kron’s story I couldn’t help but think back on the OH! So many Holocaust memorials I visited in my lifetime. From Washington, D.C. to Yad Vashem to Boston to Amsterdam and a memorable trip to Ellis Island where the stacks of hats, luggage, glasses, shoes and clothing brought collective gasps from those in my group. 

And of the course the pictures sent back to me from my two older grandchildren, who while living in Israel took a school trip to Poland and Auschwitz. The tracks, the barbed wire fences the sign above the entrance to the camp Arbeit Macht Frei. She left nothing out.  

“ My father is a small man contained and neat. He smells like lavender.”

“When I was in college I was taught that if you are standing near a piece of furniture on stage you should put your hand on it because that will make you look bigger. See? See how that works? I’m putting my hand on my father’s life.”


See you at the theatre.


Dates: Through March 19th
Organization: Diversionary Theatre
Phone: 619.220.0097
Production Type: Solo/Tour de Force
Where: 4545 Park Blvd. University Heights, 92116
Ticket Prices: Start at $15.00
Web: diversionary.org

Photo: Daren Scott

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