Radiant Vermin a Darkly Comic Play at Lyric Arts

Production Photo

Radiant Vermin by Philip Ridley is a dark and twisted tale about the evils of consumerism taken to the extreme. A struggling couple who are expecting their first child are given the chance to to move into a home of their own at no charge to themselves. It’s their house lock stock and barrel, the only thing they will have to do themselves are the renovations. It’s a fixer upper you see, but Ollie played by Noah Hynick is handy and his wife Jill, played by Callie Baack, has taste which makes them in the eyes of Miss Dee, played by Danielle Krivinchuk, the perfect couple for the house. Miss Dee is said to represent a new government program whose aim appears to be the gentrification of undesirable neighborhoods. The plan is that Ollie and Jill will fix up their house and that will attract others to the area, and it’s a plan that comes along like a house on fire. The story is told directly to the audience by Ollie and Jill after a disastrous garden party for their sons first birthday. They want to explain to us how they came to live in their dream house. All of which is a faithful set up for the play but at the same time doesn’t prepare you for what you are about to witness. This is the blackest of comedies and it takes the idea of the lack of morality in consumer culture to a whole new level. The script is extremely well written and tackles issues of class, religion, and privilege while being enormously entertaining. 

Hynick and Baack give fantastic performances and hats off to the dialect coach Gillian Constable, because they sound authentically British with Hynick having a distinctly early Hugh Grant quality minus the poshness. Their performances really shine in the reenactment of the garden party in which they each play along with Ollie and Jill at least four other characters, it’s a scene that reminded me of the terrific Stones in His Pockets which closed last week at Theater Latte Da. If you caught that show you’ll know what I’m talking about and if you loved it this is another show you should check. I’m not sure if Lyric Arts has Hynick under exclusive contract or what, I don’t think I’ve ever seen him on stage anywhere else, but everything he’s been in at Lyric he has impressed the hell out of me. Krivinchuk along with playing the devilishly well informed Miss Dee also has a scene as Kay, a homeless girl whom Ollie brings home to help renovate the house. The roll is a complete 180 from Miss Dee who is all knowing winks and wicked manipulation, while her performance as Kay is surprisingly moving and subtle in comparison. 

The set design by Cory Skold is impressive, it looks like a multistoried construction site, with painters plastic hanging all over and walls exposed down to their studs. The whole thing is pulled together by the lighting and sound design by Shannon Elliott, there are some cues that really help to sell the story as it unfolds. The production is directed by Callie Aho who also services as the Intimacy Director. Aho’s handling of that garden party scene shows a talent for making the fast paced and chaotic still surprisingly clear in terms of who’s who when there are literally 11 characters speaking at once being played by two actors. Radiant Vermin runs through March 24th at Lyric Arts in Anoka, don’t let the drive stop you it’s really not that far and this show is so very worth your time. For more information and to purchase tickets go to https://www.lyricarts.org/radiant-vermin

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Photo by Molly Weibel

Headshot of Rob Dunkelberger
Rob Dunkelberger

Rob is a member of the Twin Cities Theater Bloggers and their podcast Twin Cities Theater Chat as well as a syndicating contributor to Minnesota Playlist. Read all his content www.thestagesofmn.com