In a Day of Dreary, written and directed by Henry Ragan, explores one day in the life of a charming and perpetually frustrated girl named, yes, Dreary. Ragan, who also plays Dreary’s boyfriend in the show, created a show intentionally free of typical narrative structures.
The show is certainly innovative, allowing the linear storyline of Dreary’s day to mingle with more non-traditional theater forms: There is a monologue by a hypnotist, four masked actors who perform innovative choreography and at times stand in for furniture, a mysterious puppet and atmospheric music composed by Maxwell Denney and performed onstage by Denney on guitar and Jeremy Paral on flute. The overall effect is 40 minutes of plot twists, energy, and suspense.
The cast was led by Madeline Grey DeFreece as Dreary. DeFreece gave an excellent performance of a woman whose worrisome internal monologue is being acted out around her. Guy Ragan took on the roles of Dreary’s boss Lou as well as the hypnotist who introduces the show in an opening monologue, preparing audiences for an exploration of “the power of the human imagination.”
The choreography was innovative, most notably when the four masked figures (played by Liana Quiñones, Henry Ragan, Sam Schanwald, and Erin Sweeney) turned their creepy attention – and flashlights – on the audience and later when they morphed into businessmen doing a synchronized soft-shoe on their way to work.
Production Manager Roxy June deserves a nod for gathering a potpourri of props that actors plucked as if by magic from an amorphous pile at the back of the stage. My favorite prop use was when three tall poles were suddenly wheeled center stage, turning the masked figures into subway riders hanging on in a high-speed train.
In a Day of Dreary is a fun and memorable experience. Although there were times the plot left me perplexed, the musical left me wondering how a name impacts people’s perception of a person. If your name is Dreary is your life destined to be so?
Running Time: 40 minutes, with no intermission.
Check other reviews and show previews on DCMetroTheaterArts’ 2016 Capital Fringe Page.
Read the preview of ‘In the Day of Dreary’ by Henry Ragan.