Excavating Grief in Duquesne Red Masquer’s “2.5 Minute Ride”

By Eva Phillips

I first encountered Lisa Kron’s remarkable, one-person “show,” 2.5 Minute Ride, as a referential framework characteristically unconventional mechanisms through which queer-identifying women articulate trauma and memory in Ann Cvetkovich’s seminal collection An Archive of Feelings. Kron’s all at once hilarious, confrontational, savagely poignant, wholly personal and critically public work, originally published in 2001, exists in queer and dramaturgical canons alike as a text that seamlessly captures the indistinguishability of horror and elated awe in traumatized memory. 2.5 Minute Ride is styled as an inviting presentation, in which Kron seeks to pay homage to, unpack the legacy of, and more complexly understand her father, a German-Jewish man whose parents were (presumably) killed at Auschwitz after the family was separated. The piece navigates through several defining memories and moments in Kron’s life, but the narrative is primarily framed by three, seemingly incongruous events—Kron’s trip to Auschwitz with her father; a particularly eventful visit to the amusement park Kron and her family frequent; and the impending wedding of Kron’s brother.

In a move to explore less conventional theatre, Duquesne Red Masquers brings Kron’s emotionally intricate work to life. Directed and produced with understated aplomb by John E. Lane Jr., the Red Masquers adaptation is effectively straightforward, capturing the peculiar process by which memories and our brains’ understandings of trauma turn into a sort of spectator sport. Staged as a conversational monologue incorporating a slideshow of snapshots from Kron’s family—which, importantly to the narrative, are represented only in captions, to involve the audience in the memory creation process central to 2.5 Minute Ride’s themes—Duquesne’s production hinges upon excellent technical production in addition to clever direction. Technical Director Justin Sines and Lighting Designer Louise Ferris both contribute substantially to this production’s success—their work is never too overwrought, and they effectively collaborate to generate a mimetic representation of thought and psychological exploration that is subtle, yet impressive.

Kron’s one-woman show, and the parabolic journey undertaken discursively in the show’s surprisingly tight 90ish minute duration, requires a performer who can wholly inhabit the life and complicated mentality of a woman who effectively undergoes five years of intensive therapy in under two hours. Nancy Bach Love, who teaches acting at Duquesne and Point Park, is a revelation as she fills Lisa Kron’s shoes. Whether she is reenacting the unfathomable horror of walking through rooms filled with abandoned artificial limbs and glasses of those countless killed in gas chambers (and the heartbreaking banality of watching her fragile father take his “2 o’clock pill” in one such room); or sardonically analyzing the differences between her partner’s archetypal Catholic midwestern brood, and her Jewish-immigrant clan, Love is breathlessly committed to Kron’s essence, endlessly exuding vulnerability and charming candor.

2.5 Minute Ride is a piece which shockingly demonstrates the ways in which grief and trauma turn into carnivalesque moments when trapped in memory. Much like the primal elation Kron’s father experiences when he demands that his daughter take him on the most terrifying rollercoaster at their beloved amusement park, 2.5 Minute Ride allows audiences to engage with and access the unexpected and even admonished ways in which authentic feeling is accessed and harvested. Love’s incomparable performance, and John E. Lane Jr.’s laudable direction, create an utterly hypnotizing 90 minutes of emotional theatre that linger long past the show’s heartbreaking conclusion.

2.5 Minute Ride plays at Genesius Theatre through Nov. 3.

Categories: Archived Reviews

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