This show is a love letter. A love letter to family and to memories that bind us and both demolish and lift us up. It’s a joy to watch. It’s also clear-eyed, compassionate, and unsentimental in its look at how much time we can actually spend with our families before that needed break.
…it’s a remarkable love letter to survival and the courage to reach for the ordinary. You really don’t want to miss this play.
Lisa (a mesmerizing Dina Thomas) narrates parts of her father’s life while running through slides of her family. She’s putting together a video of her father’s life. In 1937, at the age of 15, he was sent to America to escape the Nazi regime while his Jewish parents remained behind. Somehow he landed in Lansing, Michigan where he grew up, married, and raised a family.
We learn about him, Lisa, and her partner, Peg (from an Irish family) and her mother, and various relatives through two trips. One is the annual family outing to an amusement park — somehow this family stretches a visit to a 15-acre amusement park into a three-day, cross-country trek. The other is Lisa’s trip with her father back to his hometown in Germany, and then to Auschwitz where his parents had been killed. As a young soldier during WWII, he was an interrogator of Nazi detainees because of his German language skills.
Through Lisa, we hear his words and they are words of forgiveness and love. They resonate with compassion and sorrow for all the misplaced hate and loss in the world. They also understand that prices have to be paid.
This play is also very funny. As Peg says, so Lisa tells us, her family is crazy. The script weaves the foibles, traditions, and realness of this family both gently and in riotously funny vignettes. Each vignette moves the story forward, like following bread crumbs in the forest.
Thomas understands humor — the timing, the goofiness, and irony. She’s got a solid handle on weaving the funny with the sorrowful. One hopes that she is in upcoming plays as well.
Joanie Schultz (director of “Hand to God”) keeps the pacing tight. We’re drawn in further and further until we just have to know what happened next. Wes Culwell, the director of video, uses different camera angles to film the play on stage that really gives the impression of movement.
“2.5 Minute Ride” understands the dissonance of the amusingly ordinary and the horrifying unordinary that abut each other. But most of all, it’s a remarkable love letter to survival and the courage to reach for the ordinary. You really don’t want to miss this play.
This autobiographical play is the first in a trio of solo performance pieces that will finish the 2020-2021 all-digital season.
Running Time: Approximately 90 minutes with no intermission.
Show Advisory: References to the Holocaust
“2.5 Minute Ride” runs through May 23, 2021. This production is being pre-recorded and presented virtually through on-demand streaming by Studio Theatre, Washington, DC. For more information, please click here.