Ollie Gratzinger | Editor-in-Chief
The production of 2.5 Minute Ride, written by Lisa Kron of Fun Home acclaim, has all of the things I enjoy in a play: queer themes, a Jewish narrative and a startling depth punctuated by brilliant acting.
Theatre professor Nancy Bach plays Kron in the one-woman show, taking the audience on a personal journey with its fair share of peaks and troughs, all based around photos from the Kron family album.
On one hand, she’s retelling the heartbreaking and difficult story of the time she and her father took a trip to Auschwitz, where his parents had been murdered by Nazis 50 years prior. On the other, she’s entertaining the audience with the absurd and comedic tale of her family’s annual pilgrimage from Michigan to Ohio for a trip to Cedar Point. In the background of it all is the budding beauty and frustration of her brother’s upcoming wedding; who is marrying a woman he met online.
Bach’s delivery was wonderful. Memorizing nearly 70 minutes of monologue seems like a daunting task, but Bach did so seamlessly, playing Kron’s character with a sincerity that made the Genesius Theatre feel intimate and personal.
Kron’s father, Walter, is a central character in 2.5 Minute Ride; Kron explains that he left Germany at 15 by way of a Kindertransport train; his parents stayed behind, and though they’d write to him every week, the letters eventually stopped, and he received one from the Red Cross, instead. This letter informed him that his parents had been deported.
Returning to Auschwitz brings both the expected horror and a surprising reconciliation, as Kron is forced to confront a dark reality and the ghosts the past hangs onto.
Interspersing the comedy of the amusement park adventure not only eased tension at the most intense parts of the Holocaust narrative, but also played into Kron’s idea that horror and humor can often occupy the same moment. Because most of the relatives on the trip were physically disabled, Cedar Point presented unique difficulties that Kron responded to with comedic exasperation; there was a brief monologue about eating a hamburger at 10 a.m. that was particularly hilarious.
The set was simple — a regal armchair and a side table with a glass of water, sitting neatly atop a carpet. There was a bench toward the center, which Bach sat on to act out parts of Kron’s story that took place in the car.
Different colors were projected onto the set to convey different emotions, depending on which story was being told at the time. Blue shades represented the Holocaust narrative, while pink hues softened the mood for the amusement park story. The wedding narrative was cast in orange.
I was wary, at first, that more than an hour of one stage setting and one character would get boring, for lack of a better term, but never once did I find myself hoping the play would end soon. The stories are captivating and interwoven so delicately; they capture the full range of the human experience and demonstrate the complex duality of emotion.
2.5 Minute Ride runs Oct. 30 through Nov. 3 at Duquesne University’s Genesius Theater. Wednesday through Saturday performances begin at 8 p.m. Sunday performances begin at 2 p.m.
Ticket can be purchased for $20 (plus $1.99 online surcharge) through www.duqredmasquers.com, or at the door of the theater.