Put Another Beer on the Fire

How can half-siblings mourn the passing of their father when neither one liked him much? By drinking a lot of beer and hashing up old family history. This is the basic plot of bombs in your mouth , the type of intimate unit set two-hander tailor made for tinier Fringe venues. Despite a familiar concept, this one-act mines fresh emotions thanks to great acting and concise storytelling. Playwright, Rude Mechanicals member, and star Corey Patrick plays Danny, a Minnesota gas station owner caring for his abusive father. Danny hasn’t seen half-sister Lily, an Upper West Side copywriter, in over five years. When she returns for the funeral, their respective frustrations are encapsulated in a silent, animalistic impromptu drinking game. The bingeing establishes an authentic bond between the pair, who genuinely seem like they’ve been pushing each other’s buttons since childhood.

The play finds absurdity in the way people talk when pushed to their limits. Both characters find their behavior growing increasingly irrational, mirroring the demise of their parent. While much of the action is confrontational, there are some tender moments as well to balance out the relationship. There is a very sweet moment about a third of the way through where Lily discovers that Danny has fixed up his bedroom for her. From that instant, his gesture and her gratitude hook you for the rest of the show.

Patrick’s script is chock full of tiny inanities of everyday life, but never dips into shoddy hipster irony. Lily refuses to accept a bereavement phone call from a old friend whose house recently burned down, saying the two will console each other over their losses to the point of extreme awkwardness. Danny discusses the difficulty of eating everything with a spoon when their dad outlawed all forks in the house. Both ponder the wonders of Jello.

The show’s provocative title is the only misleading or disappointing thing about the production. It makes it sound like just another Fringe show with a clever moniker but, otherwise, no real value. There are no bombs here, just honest communication between an actor and an actress, a half-brother and a half-sister, and a playwright and an audience. That’s a far bigger rarity.

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