Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: San Francisco/North Bay

The Mineola Twins
Cutting Ball Theater
Review by Richard Connema | Season Schedule

Also see Richard's reviews of Thomas and Sally, Barbecue, and Christopher M. Nelson: Love, Losses & Longings

Elissa Beth Stebbins and
Sango Tajima

Photo by Liz Olson
The Cutting Ball Theater is presenting an interesting production of Paula Vogel's The Mineola Twins. I recently saw this the playwright's Baltimore Waltz and How I Learn to Drive. In my opinion, this a minor Paula Vogel work.

The Mineola Twins played Off-Broadway in 1999 in a production directed by Joe Mantello. The play takes place during three time periods: during the Eisenhower, the Nixon, and the Bush administrations.

The plot follows two sisters through the women's movement. Myrna is the good twin, straight-as-an-arrow and old-fashioned in her values, while Myra is the "evil" twin, defiant and unabashedly uninhibited. Eisenhower's era finds Myrna about to graduate high school with boyfriend Jim. They are planning a perfect life. The Nixon government brings Myra to a life of leftish crime and Myrna an ideal life in the suburbs. During the Bush tenure, Myrna has become an efficacious author and right-wing radio host and Myra runs the local Planned Parenthood clinic with her partner Sarah. The playwright inserts three nightmares into the narrative. Each one of these dreamlike and lyrical scenes suggests the unspoken apprehensions the twins suffer from during their waking hours.

The Mineola Twins is highly theatrical, with Elissa Beth Stebbins playing Myra and Myrna, Sango Tajima playing both Jim and Sarah, and Steven Thomas playing the Kenny and Ben roles. Elissa Beth Stebbins is likeable as the twins, but she doesn't do much to distinguish them from each other. AT the beginning of the two-hour production, she talks so fast it's difficult to understand her. In the second act, she slows down her speech and is more understandable.

Sango Tajima effectively plays the dual roles of Jim and Sarah. Each twin has a son, Myrna's son Kenny and Myra's son Ben, and these roles are played successfully by Steven Thomas, as he excellently morphs into young teenagers.

The Mineola Twins runs through October 27, 2017, at Cutting Ball Theatre, 277 Taylor Street, San Francisco CA. For tickets, call 415-525-1205 or visit Their next production will be The Cutting Ball Variety Pack: A Fortnight of Exploration and Collaboration in February 2018.