Theater Review: ‘Le Switch’ at the Jungle is a ‘Fun Ride with Snappy Wit’

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Playing thru July 31

By Colleen Steppa, Theater Reviewer (Photos courtesy of Jungle Theater)

See related: ‘Le Switch’ at the Jungle Theater this Summer

Le Switch provides a blast from the not-so-distant past of the gay rights movement through a sweet, touchingly funny romance that crosses languages and borders. Frank is a New York librarian coming to terms with his best friend’s wedding and realizations of his own normalness in an increasingly gay-friendly world.  His orderly, well-classified book collection serves as a persistent metaphor as well as a functioning set piece that wheels magically across the stage at scene changes.

Zachary, the betrothed friend, provides sassy comic relief as well as the catalyst for a life-changing night in fair Montreal where we lay our scene. Frank stops to buy a gift for Zachary’s bachelor party and comes out of a shop with Benoit, a native Quebecois who is so beautiful the wind follows him around to artfully blow his hair in slow-motion. Thus in a humble airport flower shop this bilingual romance takes off, and Canadian tourism never looked so appealing.

Jungle Theater once again impresses with minimal sets, inviting the audience to play and imagine the space with bookshelves that double as mountaintops from scene to scene. Various themes of family life are explored – both those families that we are born into and the ones we make ourselves, and how we carry baggage from all of these across the frontiers we in our new relationships.

The interactions between characters are so comfortable and real that watching them feels like dropping in on long-distance friends. Changes in cultural norms across different generations of gay rights play out in how characters express their love for one another in thought-provoking and hilarious ways. Though the cast is comprised of only five people, their personalities spark and meld lightning fast with one another like fragments of matter, each to their own combinations and bonded pairs, to their natural elements.

Le Switch is a fun ride whose snappy wit keeps a sweet edge. It is a story of true love that manages to be magical and imaginative without going cartoon sappy (though Benoit is dreamier than any Disney prince). The dialogue is peppered with clever inside jokes that are special treats for Francophiles, librarians, fantasy nerds, or anyone who loves Canada.

Tickets

Le Switch thru July 31
Jungle Theater, 2951 Lyndale Avenue South
612.822.7063 or  jungletheater.com
Prices: $35 to $48 and special prices allowed Friday nights for students, and those under 30 or living in the 55408 neighborhood.

 

Box-Steppa

 

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