Posted on Jul 23, 2013
5 out of 5
"Bernice at Bay" is the first in Nagle Jackson's "Two-Part Invention" being presented this Fringe at Union Station. The two stories are parallel and designed to be viewed together in order.
Bernice (Marilyn Lynch) holds court over the OK Cafe (formerly the Victory), the last eating place in a dying Kansas town. As the regulars shuffle in one by one, she trades gossip, serves the slop, and rules the roost. A stranger's arrival sparks a discussion of the dying town, and then of her own past as well. As the story progresses, more and more cracks show until the truth comes out and we see we have been wrong all along.
A piece with only one person on stage for the vast majority requires a performer who can carry the audience through to the end with skill. Fortunately, Ms Lynch is an excellent character actress (and one this reviewer has been privileged to see before), slipping into the character with easy folksy charisma and hooking the audience right from the beginning through to the very end.
"Bernice", with its co-production "Butterfly, is essentially a story about failure. In each, a monologue is presented, certain truths held forth, and destroyed with their arrival at the end of another person. In the review for "The Butterfly Effect," the concept is explored further, and interested parties are commended to it.