BY ELLEN ROSSOW
Tin Roof Theatre Company, home of numerous MSUM alumni, will open their second show of the season next week. “The Twilight of the Golds” tells the controversial story of a woman dealing with fictional yet thought-provoking advancements in medicine.
According to the company’s website, “the controversial dramedy tackles the issue of fictional genetic testing that can not only determine physical or mental disorders, but even the sexual orientation of an unborn child.”
Written 20 years ago, the piece caught director and MSUM librarian, Larry Schwartz’s, eye even back then.
“The show is about a moral choice,” Schwartz said. “It’s about being presented with paths to go down and what happens. Plays like that have a certain fascination for me.”
The show is filled with moral dilemmas, but for Schwartz and his cast, the themes are present in today’s world and need to be discussed with the audience.
“Homosexuality is discussed in the play. Abortion is discussed. Genetic engineering is discussed,” Schwartz said. “We are talking about these things no less now than we were 20 years ago, so I think it is topical. It speaks to what is going on right now and what will be going on tomorrow.”
Because of the controversial content, the show is thick with emotion. Crystal Cossette, who plays Suzanne Gold-Stein, the pregnant woman in the piece, agrees.
“Personally, I am emotionally drained by the end of Act I,” Cossette said.
Ryan Soukup, MSUM alumnus who plays Cossette’s brother on stage, finds an emotional connection with the show as well.
“It hits close to home, playing a gay character,” Soukup said. “There are some parts of this show that are hard to get through. It is a heavy piece.”
For Cossette, the emotion comes from the fact that she has had two kids.
“They do testing for Down Syndrome,” she said. “My husband and I had to sit down and think, ‘Do we do that test?’ ‘Do we want to know?’ ‘Do we want to do it so we can prepare?’”
Cossette believes that parents and homosexuals are not the only ones who will be affected by the show, though.
“I think anyone can relate to maybe not being fully accepted by their family for a reason,” Cossette said. “I know there are times that I have thought, ‘What do you really think about me?’”
Even if audience members don’t find a distinct emotional connection with the show, the cast finds the show to be thought-provoking.
“First of all, I think it is a really interesting story. That’s what drew me to it initially,” Schwartz said. “I think people may be intrigued by that story.”
Schwartz and his cast also hope to widen people’s potentially narrow minds when it comes to their viewpoints on the concepts in the show.
“I hope people who come see the show, if they have a mindset, that seeing the show will maybe make their settlement on that mindset a little more tenuous,” he said.
Jeremy Ellsworth, who plays Suzanne’s husband, agrees.
“It is going to make people think,” he said. “It is going to challenge people to consider new possibilities.”
For J. Malcom Thompson, who plays Suzanne’s father, the show is about more than the obvious concepts. It also addresses the overwhelming urge people have to be in control.
“We have this idea that if we can just have enough knowledge, if we can just know enough about something, we can control it,” he said. “The reality is we don’t have that kind of control. Knowledge isn’t always power.”
Thompson thinks this idea is applicable to all people in our current society.
“There are some things we aren’t meant to know,” he said. “Would everybody want to know the exact moment they are going to die? It just gets in the way of just living in the present.”
The tight-knit cast of “The Twilight of the Golds” have been rehearsing since early January.
“I am really happy with the cast I have,” Schwartz said. “I think we have a cracker-jack team on that stage.”
“The Twilight of the Golds” opens at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 6 at The Stage at Island Park in Fargo. Students can get $5 “student rush” tickets with a student ID 15 minutes before showtime.
“It will be entertaining,” Schwartz said. “It is going to be an engaging and engrossing night of theatre. It will tell a good story and I can’t ask anything more from theatre than that.”