Quote of the Day: I prefer neurotic people. I like to hear rumblings beneath the surface. Stephen Sondheim

Oh, there were some deep and dark rumblings beneath the surface of Jacuzzi last Saturday night. Jacuzzi is a play written by Hannah Bos and Paul Thureen (whom I know from his high school days in speech and theater at East Grand Forks Senior High where I was a young, new teacher). Produced by Dark & Stormy Productions, based in the Twin Cities, directed by Matt Anderson, and presented at the Mill Building in Stillwater, MN. It is a bit out of my way to go to Stillwater for theater. However, my friend Maureen lives there, and I used it as an excuse to visit her and the lovely town. 

Darius Dotch as Erik/Derrick, Sara Marsh as Helene in Dark & Stormy’s production of Jacuzzi. Photo: Bryce Johnson

Jacuzzi is a dark comedy set in a remote ski chalet in Colorado. The only thing Christmas-y about the play is a Santa pillow, maybe a coffee mug, and a terrible recording of a holiday song by young Bo on his flutophone. The setting is the early 1990’s, and Maureen kept elbowing me as she recognized many of the costume choices from her closets back in the day! The 1990’s were very bright and colorful. The characters in this play are equally colorful. The story opens with “Helene” (Sara Marsh) and “Derrick/Erik” (Darius Dotch) in the jacuzzi reading a book called Becoming Bobby Robert. They give each other sly looks, but freeze when they hear a snowmobile pull up to the chalet. When Bo (Paul LaNave) walks in, they have to think fast. He’s a day early in visiting his dad, Robert (Clint Allen), who wants to bond with him and have companionship while he wades through a messy divorce from Bo’s mom. Bo’s parents were both psychologists and didn’t hesitate to study their own children and their friends in their research. Hence, the book, Becoming Bobby Robert, written by Robert about his son Bo, who is also a Robert. 

Darius Dotch as Erik/Derrick, Paul LaNave as Bo, and Sara Marsh as Helene in Dark & Stormy’s production of Jacuzzi. Photo: Bryce Johnson

The whole time you’re watching the play, you’re trying to figure out who people really are, what they want, and how that will affect the other characters. They all seem to play along with each other’s stories, but with moments of awkwardness and deception. Whenever the phone rings, Helene and Erik tense up. The Sound effects and voiceovers (Mark Benninghofen & Beth Chaplin) from the answering machine (Sound Design by Aaron Newman) are great and add to the suspense and creating the atmosphere of this play. The bright costumes (by Mel Day) put you right into the 1990’s, as well as the Decor, music, and technology, like the all-in-one tv/vcr. So many things made me chuckle.

Darius Dotch as Erik/Derrick and Clint Allen as Robert in Dark & Stormy’s production of Jacuzzi. Photo: Bryce Johnson

Director Matt Anderson and Artistic Director Sara Marsh have assembled a stellar cast for this intriguing play. Each of them embodied their character. Since we’re in an intimate space to watch this play, you see every nuance of facial expression, goosebumps, and subtle looks between characters. Sara plays an evil, yet likable, “Helene.” Darius gives Erik/Derrick a friendly exterior with flickers of a dark side. Paul is brilliant as Bo, the angry young man with an attitude and bitterness towards his dad. And, Clint is the perfect, annoying dad who has always done things his own way and completely ignored the needs and feelings of those around him.

Clint Allen as Robert, Paul LaNave as Bo, and Sara Marsh as Helene in Dark & Stormy’s production of Jacuzzi. Photo: Bryce Johnson

Overall, this was a delightful evening of theater. Paul and Hannah have written a smart script that really comes to life with this stellar team. I’m so glad I made the trip to Stillwater to see it and hang out with my friend Maureen. She showed me some of the highlights of Stillwater, including a home where they go all out with holiday decorations. We talked about the show afterwards, trying to figure out everything that happened, and chuckled again at some of our favorite parts. 

You can see Jacuzzi in Stillwater through December 19, 2021. They have only a few tickets left, so go to the Dark & Stormy website now to get yours! 

Go. Create. Inspire!

Journaling Prompt: Write about a funny, or darkly funny, moment during the holidays, or your young adult life.