None Too Fragile’s ‘The Butcher of Baraboo’ is a real cut up
One of the absolute delights in covering theater in Northeast Ohio is the occasional trip south to watch a production put on by None Too Fragile. This past year the theater moved from Pub Bricco to their new home at The Coach House Theatre located at 732 W. Exchange Street in Akron, Ohio.
An evening at None Too Fragile is like attending a family reunion but with a cool family. Your greeted with a complimentary beverage (beer or pop) and ushered into a general seating area of a little over 70 seats. It is all very intimate.
The show begins with Sean Derry (Director/Co-Founder/Co-Artistic Director) bringing you up to date (he and his wife just had their second son). Then they break out the Irish whiskey (in this case Conor McGregor’s Proper Twelve supplied by this show’s designated “bootlegger” Cypress Ventures Group). After a toast the fun begins.
None Too Fragile prides itself in providing top notch professional “Off Broadway” style black box theater. In their own words, “these are kick-ass plays with relevance.” Their current offering of Marisa Wegrzyn’s “The Butcher of Baraboo” is a prime example.
Valerie “Don’t Call Me Val” (Jen Klika) is a butcher in a small tow in Wisconsin where everyone knows everyone’s business or think they do. It is the one year anniversary of her husband Frank’s mysterious disappearance. Her sister-in-law, Gail (Anne McEvoy) is the local law enforcement who suspects that Val had something to do with it.
Valerie lives with her space cadet daughter, Midge (Kelly Strand) who for two years has worked as a “junior pharmacist” at Walgreens while on the side pilfering Sudafed for a friend to turn into crystal meth that Midge sells to the sixteen year old high school students.
Valerie’s brother-in-law (whom Valerie had a crush for in her younger days), Donal (Doug Sutherland) has moved next door with his wife, Sevenly (Mary Werntz) and their six children. Sevenly is a devout LDS wife but with her secret seventh pregnancy worries she will die as three of her sisters had died in childbirth of their seventh child. She seeks out Midge for help who procures a chemical abortion medication. Midge is also a lesbian who is strongly attracted to Sevenly.
While this is all going on, Gail experiments with crystal meth in order to find out why the local kids are so attracted to it. She comes into the kitchen wired for sound creating total chaos. Donal confronts Midge about Frank’s disappearance and rumored death. Midge suspects that Donal is her biological father. Secretly grabbing a meat cleaver Midge drives Donal out to the lake where she had taken Frank the previous year.
While the subject matter may seem a bit on the grim this play has two things going for it. The first is that it is wonderfully acted by accomplished thespians. The second is that it is skillfully written. There are some truly funny bits that are laugh out loud funny.
Jen Klika as Valerie is perfect as the grieving “widow” who is just trying to keep her head above water. Kelly Strand as Midge is her perfect foil as the airhead daughter who spends much of the play eating Count Choculacereal with Faygo blue. Anne McEvoy as Gail literally steals the show with her over the top performance especially during the meth scenes. Doug Sutherland as Donal is well appointed as the man stuck between two women whom he loves. Mary Werntz as Sevenly plays the exhausted housewife who despite her faith must use science to correct a terrible personal fear.
If you are a fan of intimate in your face no holds barred theater then this might be your cup of strong coffee. This tale of love, deceit, drugs and blood and has more twists than a doubly bent corkscrew. Well worth the short drive down to Akron.
“The Butcher of Baraboo”will be on stage in None Too Fragile’s new home The Coach House Theatre located at 732 W. Exchange Street in Akron, Ohio through October 30, 2021. For tickets and information go to www.nonetoofragile.com or call (330) 962-5547. The theater is located on W. Exchange Street between Work Drive and South Portage Path in Akron. There is a small sign out front but the theater is set back a bit from the road.
Masks are at the discretion of the audience member and proof of Covid vaccinations or negative testing were not asked for at the box office.