OnStage Massachusetts Critic
Written by Peter Sinn Nachtrieb and directed by Sean Daniels, “The Making of a Great Moment”, in its world premiere at Merrimack Repertory Theatre, stars Aysan Celik and Danny Scheie as actors Mona Barnes and Terry Dean. Written and developed with Celik and Scheie in mind for the roles, this fast-paced comedy follows its characters as they tour their play “Great Moments in Human Achievement” around the country via their bicycles. With the goal of changing lives and inspiring their audiences, the pair cycles from gig to gig, laying their sleeping bags where they can and always hoping the next location has a better performance space than the last.
The witty banter and charisma of this talented duo grabs the audience’s attention from the start. Within moments the audience is chuckling at the situation on stage and from then on they are captivated by Celik and Scheie’s ability to transform from one character to the next, often changing accents and costume or prop pieces. In doing so, they transport the audience to dozens of different places and times throughout history when great moments occurred. They were phenomenal in their ability to transition so quickly from sharing their story to jumping into a part of the play they were performing.
Mona and Terry are relatable, flawed individuals who struggle, at times, to find the positive amongst all the challenges they face. Mona is kept up at night wondering how the play can be better which leads her to think how can she make an impact on their audiences and make the world better. They pose that question to the audience, what can you do to make the world better? This recurring theme is one that stays with the audience even after the play is over.
The scenic design was created by Apollo Mark Weaver and though it seems simplistic at the start, the complexity and artistry of its design are discovered throughout. All in all it was effective at creating the various spaces the characters were at: be it a theatre stage with only one light, the passing countryside as they pedaled their bikes to their next location or sleeping on the ground looking up at the stars. The technical aspect of creating a way for the pair to actually bicycle on the stage without actually moving around the stage was ingeniously designed and extremely well executed. Additional elements were designed by Brian J. Lilienthal (lighting), David Remedios (sound), and Jessica Ford (costumes).
While this play is an enjoyable comedy, it is also intellectually stimulating. It keeps you thinking while laughing and is full of historical anecdotes and characters. As we follow these characters on their cycling journey, we recall our own journey and how it, in some ways, is similar to that in the play. We learn from past experiences, from our mistakes and accidents, as well as from the joyful fortunes and discoveries. All these things make up the moments in our lives. Some may seem small, but as we learn from Mona and Terry some may be great.
This 90-minute performance will make you laugh, but it will also get you thinking about how you can more positively influence the world around you and make it a better place. © “The Making of a Great Moment” is a fantastic play to start this fresh new year. It plays at Merrimack Repertory Theatre, located at 50 East Merrimack Street Lowell, MA, until January 29th, 2017. Tickets range from $70-$26 with discounts available for groups, students, seniors, Lowell residents, and military service members. To purchase tickets or find more information visit www.mrt.org or call 978-654-4678.
Photo: Danny Scheie & Aysan Celik in "The Making of a Great Moment." Photo by Meghan Moore.
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