Encore Michigan

Ixion explores all things ‘Geeked’

Review May 16, 2017 Bridgette Redman

LANSING, Mich.–If you can, in any way, identify yourself as a geek, then Ixion’s latest collection of original short plays is the place you want to spend your theater dollars.

OK, maybe even if you don’t consider yourself a geek but know one…or have ever been flummoxed by why someone might be obsessed with superheroes, time travel or video games. You won’t find an answer in “Geeked,” but you will walk away thoroughly entertained by a collection of shorts that are all clever, witty and often touching.

The plays, jointly directed by Jeff Croff and Nicole Clyne, take five unique looks on elements of geek culture.

“The Physics of Now” by Alex Dreman takes place late one night in a physics lab, where the obsessed and intelligent Dagney, played by Storm Boyer, tells her bored and horny boyfriend, Jake, played by Richard Kopitsch, that all she has to do is solve for K and time travel will be possible. He’s convinced she’s on the wrong track because if time travel were possible, they’d already have visitors from the future. Plus, he really wants to have sex with her now—rather than her promise of later. Their arguments are interrupted by two unusual visitors—Couglin (Steve Ledyard) and the Professor (Rebecca Williams).

This is a clever short in the popular time travel genre that uses the trope as an entertaining look at relationships and all that can go right and wrong with them. Boyer and Kopitsch have incredible chemistry and they really sell everything that happens. Boyer has such enthusiasm for Dagney’s work, yet it is easy to see why Jake has fallen for her. You don’t get much time to get to know these characters, but the actors do such a good job with them that you’re immediately rooting for them.

“Cow” by Scott Mullen is a two-hander about some young women who are very fond of bananas. They’re each pretty sure they know a secret about the other, but aren’t quick to reveal their whys and wherefores. Jennifer Lowe plays Quinn, the not-quite villain with an avenging streak, while Rebecca Williams is Wendy, the slightly injured would-be hero who is eager to track down Quinn’s secret.

Williams does well at capturing her character’s awkwardness, especially as she eventually opens up to who she is and why she does what she does. Lowe does especially well at her silent parts when she is trying to shut Wendy down by ignoring her or pretending that they have no connection.

Of the five plays, this one has the slowest pace, with some awkward silences that start to lose the audience, but it is ultimately sweet and gives hope to even misfits that they can find someone to connect with.

Jack Karp’s “Superiority Complex” is a delight for super-hero fans everyone. And you don’t have to have a high geek cred to be able to soon recognize the patient, played by Kopitsch. He’s a man with a problem, and he’s turned to Professor Feingold, played by Ledyard, a mental therapist straight out of the 70s, with a barely tied in afro, polka-dot clothes and the spaced-out personality to match.

The two have a hilarious exchange with Karp finding all sorts of double-entendres to play with and a delightfully fun arc which his two characters go through. It’s a fun “what-if” that pokes fun at both superhero personalities and the world of pop psychology. But it also has a plot arc and clever twists.

John Weagly’s “Betrayal Among the Grinning Gators” is the shortest tale of the five presented and it wastes no time in delivering comic punches and laughs with almost every line. Williams is Louise, the woman with a confession to make to her partner. Ben Guenther is Roy, who is devastated and betrayed by what Louise has done. Both of these actors buy immediately into the absurdity of the exchange, selling it for all it was worth.

The evening’s short plays wrap up with Terry Palczewski’s “What We Do.” It is the longest of the five works and the most serious of the collection. It isn’t that there isn’t humor in this story, but the humor isn’t the point; it is merely the vehicle to underline the more touching elements of the play. In it, Ralph, played by Guenther, and Curtis, played by Kopitsch are competing for a job and while they have similar skills, they couldn’t be more apart in personality or outlook. Accompanying Ralph for moral support is his girlfriend Julia, played by Boyer.

Like in the first show, Boyer is commanding in her role and electric in the personality she portrays. She brings both strength and vulnerability to Julia and does it with her voice and her body language. She is the perfect foil between the two men and the one with the greatest grasp on authenticity.

Ralph is the arrogant hot-shot who is certain he will get both the job and the girl because he never lets anyone beat him at anything, no matter what he has to do to win. He has no patience for “losers,” and everyone is a loser compared to him. Guenther does a great job of portraying this, being unrelenting in the way he bulldozes over everyone in his path.

Kopitsch is impressive in that each of his many roles in this evening are so different from each other. In this, he is the consummate nerd, though he insists he is a geek. Curtis talks non-stop with little filter from his brain to his mouth. He is outwardly committed to logic, but Julia is able to show him that he is something more than that. Again, the chemistry between these two actors bring new layers to this story and enable audience buy-in. Perhaps these two characters are as different as you can get, but it isn’t hard to believe that they manage to find a connection.

The costuming in this play is spot-on, each capturing the personality of the characters and communicating quickly a stereotype they can break from—or not.

This slot in Ixion’s season has been dedicated to new works around a theme chosen by the theater company. This year’s offering may be the strongest since they started with each play working both on its own and with each other.

“Geeked” is a highly entertaining evening with witty humor and more than a few touching moments.

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