Juniper Wisniewski’s The Gooseberry is quite simply a dinner party from hell.
Playing off the saying that marriage is hard, Juniper takes the sentiment one step further, adding “especially when you hate being married”. Our married couple in The Gooseberry is Audrey and Zena; Audrey has arranged and cooked for the dinner party, Zena just wants to read and either cancel or ignore the dinner party around her. Audrey has made a goose for the dinner party; Zena decided last night she is a vegetarian. Audrey asks, is this your way of saying you want a divorce?
The night proceeds approximately how you can imagine from there as the other guests arrive.
The characters and their antics are increasingly extreme – the audience laughs while wondering if any of the characters or their relationships with one another will survive what on its surface seems to be a regular occurrence in their social circle.
If you’ve been to NextFest in previous years, you’ll recognize Moplip Theatre, the absurdist, nonsensical theatre company presenting this show. While the script is distinctly not Moplip, it has a flair for the extreme and absurd encouraged by Moplip director Skye Hyndman. The script itself is nuanced, with funny lines buried in its crevasses and complex characters. If you’re familiar with previous Moplip plays, I think you’ll find The Gooseberry has just enough absurdity that you believe it’s presented by Moplip Theatre, but with enough of a throughline to make it more widely accessible.
Remaining performances of The Gooseberry are June 5, 6 and 10 at the Roxy on Gateway (8529 Gateway Blvd.). Tickets are $12 per show, $20 for a day pass or $40 for a festival pass through the Theatre Network box office.