Review: "Mine" Takes Audiences Down the Gopher Hole


Created and performed by Shayna Strype

Presented by Dixon Place via

Streaming live April 21-24, 2021 and on demand April 26-May 3, 2021

Photo courtesy Michelle Tabnick PR
Not many plays come to mind that feature a mountain as a central character. Creator and performer Shayna Strype, in her new show Mine, inhabits characters from said mountain to some sentient home appliances to a TV psychic by way of an eclectic mix of costumes, puppets, green screen, and more. Even her toes get to dress up and take part.

Strype makes a wry gesture to the show's being livestreamed by replacing the usual request for audience members (here composed of claymation figures) to silence their cell phones with encouragement to close their other browser tabs. Visions, a psychic call-in show of the type that one might find on late-night cable and complete with a satirical commercial break, provides the frame for Mine's meditations on ecosystems both actual and emotional. When one caller says that she feels like a pile of rubble, it's a more literal statement than one might expect, and it leads to us becoming acquainted with, among others, the mountain, hollowed out over centuries for profit and at great human and ecological cost; a groundhog who feels weighed down by both the human castoffs that have overtaken her burrow and the emotional energy with which they are infused; and a wife contemplating the status of the love in her marriage.
Rehearsal photo. Courtesy Michelle Tabnick PR
These various perspectives underscore that while people, for example, might appear insignificant (not to mention destructive) to a mountain that is magnitudes larger and older, that doesn't mean that we should see their individual lives as insignificant. If anything, Mine manufactures a world in which everything is infused with life, and in which interconnectedness is foregrounded (and reflected in the thematic interconnections among sections of the play). The production uses practical means to create the effect of moving through a tunnel of (symbolically?) reflective material under each of the tarot-esque cards that the psychic deals as she turns it over, and one might link this repeated movement to the play's concern with interiors/interiority, gestured to also in the double meaning of the title Mine. It is concerned also with responsibility for others, with letting go, and with the balance between the two—when the groundhog, for example, tries to take responsibility for too many others, she ends up overloaded, looking like a katamari ball.

Mine has plenty of humor and surreal images (a mouth as a mineshaft, to take one instance that stands out), along with plenty of visual variety and inventiveness. There is singing, a bit of poetry, a metal detector used as a musical instrument, and a dancing house. A quirky, unconventional hour of theater, Mine sparkles like one of the diamonds whose commodification it critiques.

-John R. Ziegler and Leah Richards


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