MOORHEAD — When the members of Theatre B started considering plays to produce this season, they were looking for two particular qualifications. Given the ongoing pandemic, productions had to be safe for cast and audience, with safe social distancing. Members also wanted something that seemed timely, relevant to today’s atmosphere.
They feel they found both of those in the one-person show, “The Majority.”
“For these hyper-divisive times, it’s a perfect slam dunk,” says actor Clare Lynch.
The play opens this weekend, just days ahead of Tuesday’s election. The timing is no accident as the work follows the growing political activation of Lynch’s character, Robbie.
Written by Scottish playwright Rob Drummond, the one-man show opened in 2017 and followed a man named Rob, who went from being uninvolved in the 2014 Scottish independence referendum to increasingly politically active and agitated. The central character lends voice to others around him expressing their thoughts, hopes, fears and distrust of politicians and even each other, ending with the 2016 election of American President Donald Trump.
While some of the context may be set in Scotland, Director Tucker Lucas says the play is more universal.
“That’s really more the backdrop,” he says. “It’s about how people who are engaged in politics are affected by it. It’s about how easy it is to become toxic in a toxic atmosphere in politics and culture.”
He can relate on a personal level.
“I was arguing with everybody in 2016. That’s the journey our protagonist is going through," he says. "I never went nearly as far as Robbie goes down the hole.”
Ultimately the play’s message is to encourage involvement without ever losing self-awareness, he says.
Part of the universality of the show is the ease in which Rob can be switched to the female Robbie, allowing Lynch to step into the role. She’ll speak in her own accent as the main character, but switch to a Scottish brogue to vocalize other characters.
“Hearing her North Dakota accent helps show how universal the play is. It’s not locked in the United Kingdom,” Lucas says.
Nor is the play confined to the theater. Due to safety concerns, most of the audience will view the show streaming. Broadcasting the production excites Lucas.
“This play screams for internet streaming. We’ve embraced televised production aspects as part of the show,” says the director, who also works in video production. “Combining theater and video is scratching an itch I had.”
Watching online also makes it easier for viewers to take part in the interactive experience. Throughout the play, Robbie asks the audience to vote on everything from whether there should be a bathroom break to whether it’s OK to punch a Nazi to prompting them to make decisions that may be against their own best interests.
The show uses variations on the trolley problem, an exercise that poses the ethical dilemma over sacrificing one life to save more lives. The audience must make a value judgment, changing how Robbie reacts in each production.
“I love the different iterations of the trolley problem in the play, how it becomes personal and political,” Lynch says. “Everyone will face a question where they want to answer, ‘Yes, but…,’ and you can’t do it. The show makes me think more about black and white versus shades of gray. We’re often forced into a yes-or-no vote. We want to see the world in shades of gray, or at the very least, conversations should allow for shades of gray."
If you go
What: “The Majority"
When: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 30, and Saturday, Oct. 31, and 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 1, with shows the next two weekends
Info: Shows will be streamed live; tickets are pay what you will opening weekend and range from $12 to $25 after on https://www.theatreb.org/