In Blue Earth: Actors present dark comedy

BLUE EARTH – What would you do to save your town?

That’s the question raised in “The Visit,” which will be staged at 7 p.m. Thursday and Friday, 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday, and 1 p.m. Sunday at the Historical Village on the Faribault County Fairgrounds.

The production combines local talent and performers from Sod House Theater in the Twin Cities, headed by Luverne Seifert and Darcey Engen, who brought “The Cherry Orchard Project” to Blue Earth last year.

Brian Roverud was part of that cast.

“We had a great time with these guys and several came back,” he said.

Roverud is happy to be playing a couple of characters in “The Visit.”

“I’m a sucker for dark comedies and that’s what this one is,” he said. “It’s a dark German comedy, which I like a lot.”

“The Visit” is about a young woman, Claire, who becomes pregnant by her lover, Alfred.

“She is ostracized and kicked out of town,” explained Engen.

After Claire leaves, the town becomes destitute.

“She goes off and becomes very wealthy and comes back (years later), and they welcome her,” Engen said. “She says she’ll give $30 million to the town if they kill the man who got her pregnant.”

Will the townspeople kill Alfred to get themselves out of debt?

“We’ve read the script and it’s a lot funnier than it reads,” said Mike Ellingsen, who plays the pastor and directs the music. “When you look at the storyline, it seems very dark, but when you see it performed, it’s quite funny.”

The other aspect that makes it different is it will be performed on the Fairgrounds, amongst the buildings and trees.

“You really don’t have a stage at all,” said Zach Shure, who plays Karl. “You get to enjoy the great outdoors while watching people put on a play.”

“It’s so surprising, you’re sitting there and the play is going on right around you,” said Barb Pearson, who plays a townperson. “I loved the concept.”

It’s not your typical production, Engen acknowledged, but that’s the point.

“We do plays that bring up questions that are pertinent to our lives,” she said.

The play is funded by a grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board.

“The money our state voted on (November 4, 2008) to go to the arts and clean water,” Engen said.

She and her castmates have staged the production in Albert Lea and will head to East Grand Forks after their run in Blue Earth.

Why go to the trouble of driving around the state, wouldn’t it be easier to stay in the Cities?

“It would be easier, but that’s a part of the grant,” Engen said. “That Legacy money is about bringing the arts to the entire state, not just the Cities.

“There’s really talented people in these small towns,” Engen said. “We want to be present and be with different kinds of actors. It’s one of the most satisfying aspects of it.”