What has one “Legs,” 14 arms, and seven selections that cause hands to go together? Why it’s Ixion Theatre’s production of “Fears & Phobias.”
In “Legs,” Angela Dill and Spencer Perrenoud are amputees waiting for prosthetic limbs. She is a mom and a car accident victim, and he is a soldier who lost his leg from a road bomb. The unlikely pair bond in the waiting room. Dill and Perrenoud’s acting makes their suffering seem real.
Rich Espey’s “Killing Trudy” again features the pair and Anna Szabo.
Dill plays the annoying and pessimistic Trudy. Perrenoud and Szabo are lovers trying to rid themselves of the annoyance, a la “Throw Mamma Off the Train.” Plenty of laughs and slapstick moments proceed the attempts to throw Trudy off a balcony.
“October,” by Greg Lam, earned the most laughs on opening night. It has two baseball fans convinced their actions and rituals impact their team’s success, and a girlfriend struggling to oblige their obsessions. Szabo, Ben Guenther and Madi Shank, comprise the comedic trio.
Guenther, Shank, and Perrenoud get the most chuckles in the farce, “Donald Trump is a Racist, Xenophobic, Sexist, Ignorant, Tiny-Handed, Tangerine-Faced Narcissist Who Has No Business Being President and Should be Impeached,” with insults directed to the “artistic” Robin Theatre audience of “traitors.” The parody of the current Administration does not offer hope.
“Code,” by Andrea Clardy, has a similarly bleak view of an authoritarian future.
Danica O’Neill and Sadonna Croff play tech workers for a regime that allows no privacy and threatens consequences for those who aren’t subservient. Convincing performances by both actors add to the gloomy images.
Chris Shaw Swanson’s “Bunker Bound” is a torturous exchange between a mother and daughter. Mom is trying to get her offspring to join her in a refurbished missile silo in Kansas. Croff is the wealthy mom.
Szabo is the daughter who does not want herself and her family to survive an apocalypse if that survival means leaving everything to hide with a privileged few — Mom included.
The play that ends the “Fears & Phobias” compilation is “Family Planning” by John Minigan. To me, it was the most potent. O’Neill is a high school student confronting her future as a woman after Trump, who bragged of his ability to abuse, is elected. Dill is her conservative mom grappling with her daughter’s worries.
The links to specific fears and phobias in all the adult-themed plays aren’t always obvious. Most are certainly not meant for those who wear “MAGA” caps and they can be upsetting reminders for those tormented by the current state of America. But if the intent of good theatre is to engage and inspire reactions, “Fears & Phobias” accomplishes that.
With only minimal stage pieces, the effective acting helps trigger strong reactions.
Credit is also due to the skills of directors, Heath Sartorius and Nick Lemmer, and to Artistic Director Jeff Croff who solicited original plays and helped make the event possible. All deserve applause.
“Fears & Phobias”
$15 Through May 20 8 p.m. Saturday 2 p.m. Sunday AA Creative Corridor 1133 S. Washington Ave., Lansing www.ixiontheatre. com (517) 775-4246