THEATER | “Master Works” at the BLB: Bad art, good plays


If you haven’t been to the Museum of Bad Art (MOBA) lately, that’s understandable: it’s in the basement of a movie theater in Massachusetts. In Master Works: The MOBA Plays, local group Commedia Beauregard collaborated with MOBA to create plays based on select pieces of bad art. Each playwright had one month to write a 15-minute play based on a MOBA painting, and these six shorts are performed in sequence, each starting and ending with a glimpse of the painting on which it’s based.

master works: the moba plays, presented by commedia beauregard through february 8 at the bryant-lake bowl, 810 w. lake st., minneapolis. for tickets ($15) and information, see

The first play, “Auntie Lisa,” is based on the painting Mana Lisa and combines seduction, cross-dressing, and art fraud. Kelvin Hatle performed nicely in drag and won the crowd over.

The second play, “The Destabilization of Businessmen” or “The Big-Wigs Lose Their Heads,” based on the painting Invasion of the Office Zombies, doesn’t quite warrant two titles. The highlight of the play is Grover Cleveland (Jeff Huset) dancing around the set to Pink Floyd. You can’t get better than that, and the play doesn’t.

“Two Left Feet” is based on the painting My Left Foot. Playwright Matthew A. Everett produced an exceptional script about staying whole in the tragedy of war, when everything seems to be falling apart into pieces and when pieces of our loved ones are returned to us with a folded flag and heroic words. Actress Blake E. Bolan is surprisingly captivating in her role as a foot; Bryan Grosso and Tera Kibride also deserve plaudits.

An upbeat “Off Leash” follows, based on the painting Bone-Juggling Dog in Hula Skirt. While not very deep, it had the audience chuckling appreciatively. “Gina’s Demons,” based on the painting of the same title, has the largest cast and is also enjoyable.

The final play, “The Disturbing Chair,” based on the painting Lulli, Fowl, and Gravestone had the crowd practically falling out of their seats with roaring laughter. The dialogue written by Bill Corbett is delightful, and the director Katie Willer does an excellent job. Actresses Eva Nelson and Dawn Maliesi were superb as a crazy patient and a psychiatrist having a really bad day. I would go back just to hear the description of the “hideous” chair.

Even with the clatter of bowling pins and the occasional muffled shout of “Strike!” audible outside the Bryant-Lake Bowl Theater, I found myself getting lost in the scripts. The MOBA Plays are a perfect escape on a cold Sunday night.

Melissa Slachetka ( is a freelance writer and photographer who lives in Minneapolis and contributes regularly to the Daily Planet.