In my last review of Metro Theatre Company, I noted that they provided public performances of two plays they had been performing in schools and other public places. One of the plays, Eddie and Vinnie, continued for another weekend after I wrote my review. But the other one closed that same weekend before I could write and publish my review.
So here now, at last, are my comments about that play, Maddi’s Fridge.
Playwright Anne Negri adapted the play from a book of the same name by Lois Brandt. “Years ago,” Brandt explained, she “peeked into her best friend’s refrigerator and found empty shelves and one small carton of milk. Her best friend’s family didn’t have enough money to buy food. Maddi’s Fridge is the result of that moment.“
To bring that story to the stage, the Director of Metro’s production, Jess Shoemaker, and its Scenic Designer, Laura Skroska, created two kitchens side by side on the stage, with a refrigerator in each, Maddi”s nearly empty fridge in one and the kitchen of her friend Sofia and of Sofia’s younger brother Luis with a quite full refrigerator and a dog, created by the Puppet Designer Luna Valerie Martin, brought to life by Sofia and Luis’s actors, Gabrielle Watson Torres and DeAnte Bryant, who sometimes hold the puppet in their arms and sometimes lead him about with his leash, all done quite convincingly, including some barks from the dog.
And then, when the youngsters have fixed something to eat from their fridges, the scenery pieces with the refrigerators reverse, with park-like outdoor settings, where Sofia and Sarah Lantsberger’s Maddi meet. Between the two scenery pieces a rock climbing wall is revealed. It’s near Maddi’s house, and she nimbly climbs it to the top. But Sofia is reluctant to follow her, until Maddi climbs down and shows Sofia where to put her feet on projecting rocks and grab others with her hands. Thanks to her friend’s help, Sofia too makes it to the top.
And when they go into Maddi’s kitchen, Sofia discovers Maddi’s nearly empty fridge. Maddi, embarrassed by her lack of money to fill the fridge, makes Sofia swear not to tell anyone about her fridge. Sofia agrees. But now it’s her turn to help her friend who helps her. She wants to get more food for Maddi’s fridge, and the only to do that is to get money or food or both from her mother. But then she would have to tell her mother about Maddi’s empty fridge. And she’s sworn not to tell her mother or anyone else about why she wants to get food for Maddi.
What shall she do about Maddi’s fridge?
I am always impressed by the elements of the staging of Metro’s touring shows. And now they’ve been lugging two refrigerators around the countryside. But, thanks to the splendid work of the playwright and the director and the actors, you soon stop worrying about all that effort and are caught up in the story of Maddi’s fridge.
Nathan Wright’s Stage Manager had his hands full keeping the ingenious scene changes ready, with major support from the Props Manager Katie Orr. Nathan Lessly designed the costumes, Amanda Warre designed the sound, Cristie Johnston painted the scenery, and Brian Macke was the Technical Director.
Metro’s plays always find ways to entertain their audiences and to give them something to think about.
Photo by Mike DePope
From the left, Sarah Lantsberger as Maddi and Gabrielle Watson Torres as Sofia in Maddi’s Fridge.