The new kid on the theater block, None Too Fragile, is making its presence known through a combination of cool ambiance and intense drama.
The fledgling company has set up shop by creating a 40-seat black box theater within Pub Bricco, an established and frequented restaurant/bar located in the Merriman Valley. Theatergoers can stop in the pub for good food and drinks and then wind through the various rooms back to the theater. There they still have easy access to the bar at the entrance of the theater room.
Before the curtain went up at a showing of its current drama, John Kolvenbach’s “On an Average Day,” None Too Fragile promotion point man, Jaysen Mercer, offered the assembled audience shots of Jameson whiskey. Where does that happen? “Any occasion will do,” Mercer offered — birthday, anniversary, or just in the mood to celebrate and you like Jameson’s. That gesture sets a level of intimacy and fun that theater can rightly be, even if you don’t want to drink.
The two-person play, as co-directors and actors Sean Derry and Mark Mayo conceived it, stirred up an intense, riveting concoction. “On an Average Day” takes places entirely within the studio apartment of down-and-out Bob (Sean Derry), who slowly reveals throughout the play his brush with the law to his presumably uptight, levelheaded brother Jack.
As they slowly drink bottle after bottle of Hudepohl beer, the two brothers unveil the pent up emotions within themselves while unleashing their sibling fury at each other — all based around different perceptions of their relationships with their father. Things mount until the two end up in one of the strongest and most realistic stage fights that most theatergoers will ever see — which begins with live gunfire (with blanks of course) and a dramatic blackout.
Derry and Mayo were remarkably good in the performance the evening I went there. Derry’s Bob was unyieldingly and alternatingly confused and angrily lucid, while Mayo’s Jack slowly and metaphorically lets his hair down.
The set for the play befitted the emotional clutter of these men’s lives. The room was piled high with newspapers — all because Bob scrutinized them for misdeeds and deaths just in case he was the one they were talking about. The place looked unkempt and careless, another physical token of their mental states.
None Too Fragile intends it seems to bring new, edgy, confrontative art to the Akron area. “On an Average Day” is a great start.
“On an Average Day” will be performed by None Too Fragile theater group on Thursday-Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 7:30p.m. through October 21 in Pub Bricco, 1835 Merriman Rd., Akron; 330-671-4563; www.nonetoofragile.com. Tickets are $20 or “Pay As You Can.”