Minnesota Moon’s Maple Lake isn’t a place to live, it’s place to leave. The fictional town, which holds little excitement beyond “beer, girlfriends, and gas stations,” is the backdrop for freshman Mitchell Boyle and junior Peter Rule to showcase their acting talents.
Knox Theatre debuted its first Studio Theatre production of the 2017-2018 school year, Minnesota Moon by John Olive and directed by sophomore Joel Willison. this weekend. The show is simple in its nature; friends Larry and Alan share a pack of beer in 1968 over conversation of their good times in their hometown of Maple Lake.
The play harmoniously contrasts the archetypes of Alan and Larry and uses this contrast to create most of its exceptional moments. Boyle does an amazing job of embodying the loud, unapologetic nature of Larry, the 18 year-old handyman who holds more of a practical intelligence over the book smarts of his counterpart, Alan. As Larry gets wilder throughout the night, Boyle brings his character to life with his impressive ability to walk poorly and comedically time drunken truths. He makes it clear that Larry is in his element while getting drunk with his friends.
Rule complements Boyle by embodying the mellow disposition of Alan. Rule’s strengths lie in his ability to communicate big themes with subtlety, most notably the confusion and nostalgia of growing up. Rule embodies a more reserved character, perhaps the antithesis to his shameless friend. While Boyle pushes comic relief, Rule aids the emotional pace of the show by expressing genuine sentiments of his character. Alan’s onslaught of honesty culminates into a tension-filled argument between the friends. The cause of the argument: two very different people having very different views on the Vietnam War.
Between discussions of their friends’ involvements in Vietnam, some fatal, Alan and Boyle reveal their views on their current political climate. Alan is pro-peace, while Larry is on the verge of enlisting. Rule and Boyle meaningfully navigate these conflicts, explaining emotionally how their backgrounds and differences contribute to their opinions on the war. Both characters are portrayed in such a way that it becomes easy to envision how they will be involved in the war: Larry will proudly fight, Alan will peacefully advocate anti-war sentiments.
Knowing they only have one guaranteed evening to reminisce, Alan and Larry recount their friendship amidst the somber truth that everything is about to change. The actors’ playful bantering and intermingling creates an air of comfort – the comfort of friendship. The show sheds light on the undeniable regard we hold deep down for our loved ones, regardless of what surface tensions might exist. Between this and the director’s incorporation of space around the audience – albeit, as a place for the characters to symbolically display their comfort with one another by peeing in each other’s company – we as viewers feel equivalent to another companion in the room. The characters most importantly remind us that camaraderie is a force which always overpowers our differences.