Tuesday, October 29, 2013

THE TRIVIA JOB • OnSite Theatre Company

Ready for a little trivia night action?  "The Trivia Job", written specifically for OnSite by Dan Rubin, makes its debut in Soulard.  In keeping with OnSite's tradition of producing plays in site-specific locations, this one takes place at the Metropolitan Community Church of Greater St. Louis, and includes three rounds of trivia -- "The Good", "The Bad", and "The French."

Some members of the fictional St. Francis Parish are putting on the trivia night to raise money for the expensive repairs needed to restore their tornado-damaged church.  That's their story, anyway.  What they're really planning is a bank heist.  After being welcomed by Allison (Ann Marie Mohr), a rather high-strung member of the parish, she stumps for donations and stalls while we wait for the master of ceremonies.  Listening in to her table, we learn that the trivia night is just a cover for a planned robbery of the Anheuser-Busch Credit Union -- which happens to be just down the street.  Along with Allison, there's her daughter Patricia (Julia Zasso), willing but soft-spoken participant Betsy (Michelle Hand), and the orchestrator of it all, Maxine (Donna Weinsting) -- all playing together on a team called, the "Knitting Ministry".  They were thrown off slightly when the original mc had to bow out after coming down with the shingles, but they called in the unsuspecting Father Calvin Truss (Ben Nordstrom) as a replacement, who finally arrives, gasping and out of breath.  As the night goes on, not only do we get to play trivia, we also get to see how their plan goes down.  Will they be successful?

Julia Zasso (Patricia Cross), Ann Marie Mohr (Allison Cross),
Michelle Hand (Betsy White),
Ben Nordstrom (Father Calvin Truss)
and Donna Weinsting (Maxine Peters).
Photo credit: Opal Andrews
Rubin's simple, straightforward plot is enhanced by the surroundings, though with everyone getting so wrapped up in the trivia, it becomes easy to forget you're watching a play -- maybe a little too easy.  Cause you know I'm all about, "The show has started.  STFU."  Still, Anna Pileggi's direction and the performances do a pretty good job directing attention at the right times to the right things, and it's fun to watch for the humorously conspicuous goings-on in the meantime.

At points during the trivia, members of the Knitting Ministry are called upon to fill for time, allowing everyone a moment to share some insight into their characters.  Some of these are funny, even poignant, but sometimes go on just a tad too long.  Allison has a typically strained relationship with her daughter, who's harboring a crush on Father Calvin.  Betsy's stream-of-consciousness rambling to fill time lets us in on more of what's behind that placid expression of her's.  Maxine, the plain-spoken, wallet-on-a-chain, plaid wearing mastermind, who intends to use ferrets as a crucial part of the plan, insists that she has taught the ladies everything they need to pull it off, and has a revelation or two of her own.  So does Father Calvin, who grows suspicious while trying to fend off a hangover.

So, get a group together, name your team, get your tickets, bring your snacks, and play some trivia at MCC!  It's a fun night of entertainment.

Our team came in second.  :)


Donna Weinsting (Maxine Peters), Michelle Hand (Betsy White),
Ben Nordstrom (Father Calvin Truss),
Julia Zasso (Patricia Cross) and Ann Marie Mohr (Allison Cross).
Photo credit: Opal Andrews
THE TRIVIA JOB

Written by Dan Rubin
Directed by Anna Pileggi
Metropolitan Community Church of Greater St Louis,
1919 S. Broadway Ave.
through November 9 | tickets: $25
Performances Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm

Cast:
Michelle Hand (Betsy White), Ann Marie Mohr (Allison Cross), Ben Nordstrom* (Father Calvin Truss), Donna Weinsting (Maxine Peters), and Julia Zasso (Patricia Cross).
* Member Actors' Equity Association

Creative:
Assistant director, Louisa Kornblatt; stage manager, Linda Menard.

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