Beertown is a very enjoyable play where you, the audience member, becomes part of the experience. I love this kind of play where you can be as active a participant as you want or you can sit back and just watch the action.
The concept is a display of civic participation during a town hall taking place in a small town’s gathering to vote artifacts in and out of a time capsule. The play takes you through 100 years of Beertown’s significant artifacts representing the history of the town. Considering the audience become the town’s residents, the ensemble cast expertly weaves unscripted questions during the voting sessions into the narrative without skipping a beat and results in a natural feeling debate that would change with each show depending on the audience. This keeps things fresh and interesting.
The actors in Beertown were well cast for their respective roles – you believe these characters. In particular, during the voting scenes, J. Argyl Plath’s (Edwin McFarlan) deadpan delivery of the simple rituals in counting votes were funny and well played – he’s a very likable slightly quirky character. Joshua Drew (Mayor Michael Soch) deftly played the role of mayor and debate moderator during the voting scenes, and his ability to cheese up the role of mayor of a small-town adds to the flavor of Beertown.
During the play, there was a poignant scene about memories and how each time you recall a memory it changes ever so slightly, and that you’re recalling a memory in today’s perspective. Recall a memory enough times, and what happens is that you start re-weaving a memory that may bear little resemblance to the historical fact of what actually transpired. This directly ties into one of the play’s theme focusing on history, remembering the past, and the concept of using a time-capsule to capture memories reflecting the town’s history.
I also have to take a moment and offer kudos to the well crafted set design by Set and Lighting Designer Colin K. Bills, that seamlessly incorporates the entire venue. The moment you walk into the room where the play takes place, you are offered a free t-shirt commemorating the 20th Quinquennial Beertown Time Capsule Celebration along with the program for the evening (they’re props you can keep!) and the chance to indulge in homemade desserts while the members of the ensemble walk around and interact with you. It took me a moment to realize the start of the play is not at a distinct moment set at a specific time but rather begins when you walk through the doors. Pretty cool I say.
Well acted and directed, Beertown is a play worth your time. Cheers to the Beertonians!
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