THEATER | Open Eye Figure Theatre's "The Cabinet of Wonders" is a typically strange little show

Vera Mariner and Pearce Bunting in The Cabinet of Wonders. Photo by Irve Dell, courtesy Open Eye Figure Theatre.

Curious objects abound in the mysterious home of Christina (The Opener) and Leopold Carcass. Among the rats, wishbones, and contraptions—such as a chalk that's attached via retractable cord reel to Leopold's buttonhole, or a cupboard that is worn like an accordion—the two half crazy family members wander in a Beckett-like world of nonsense and secrets.

The Cabinet of Wonders by Kira Obolensky, now playing at Open Eye Theatre, is a curious little script. Christina (Vera Mariner) and Leopold (Pearce Bunting) are about to be evicted from their home, and Christina believes the only way they will be saved is by her daughter, Theodora. However Leopold knows that Theodora will never return, for he has a copy of her latest book, which is basically a rant against her mother, with some stabs at him as well (Theodora describes her uncle as a weak yawning maul of need).

the cabinet of wonders, presented through november 14 at open eye theatre. for tickets ($15) and information, see openeyetheatre.org.

The best part about the show is the design, created with pristine detail by Irve Dell. I recommend sitting up close so you can fully admire all the little devices (although not too close, as you might get hit with flying chunks of beans). Like the plot, the objects are not what they seem. Is it a doll, or is that their mother? The cabinet, which only Christina knows how to open, is filled with secret nooks and crannies hiding family secrets long forgotten.

There are also some stunning images in the show, helped by a striking lighting design by Heidi Eckwall. The music, by Tim Harbeson and engineered by Andrew Mayer, is playful and eerie, adding to the weirdness of the place.

The play falls into the Theater of the Absurd genre, and as such, can go off into the abyss sometimes. There were moments that ventured into a very cerebral place where the action stopped moving forward. However, there is enough mystery and plot to carry the 85-minute show. The characters are compelling, if at times a bit unsympathetic. Pearce Bunting creates an intriguing and pathetic Leopold, while Vera Mariner is charming, although I found her performance lacked the layers that Bunting had.

If you go, you should plan on getting there a little early, because Open Eye is hosting a rummage sale before the show, with lots of cool knick knacks, clothes, books, music, and more.

506 E. 24th St.
Minneapolis, MN 55404
612-874-6338

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    Sheila Regan's picture
    Sheila Regan

    Sheila Regan (sheila [at] tcdailyplanet [dot] net) is a Minneapolis theater artist and freelance writer.