Lands Ruled by Emotion

Throughout the summer, Vista’s Broadway Theater is producing W.I.P. (Works in Progress) shows for limited runs. So be aware, that only three dates are left to see the family friendly W.I.P. fantasy, Flipside.

The plot takes place within two completely different lands. Elatia is a “paradise” where locals have unbelievably optimistic attitudes. No one who lives in the utopia has a negative thought in their head. This fact initially does not bother a peppy resident, Jube (Maxwell Peterson).

One day, he is asked by a mysterious stranger to deliver a package outside of Elatia. He soon enters a bleak location known as Dysphoria. Every person who resides in the gloomy community is either depressed, paranoid or indifferent to other peoples’ needs. When Jube first walks into Dysphoria, he meets a downbeat girl with a tragic past, Sorrow (Sierra Hastings).

Although Jube soon goes back to his home, their brief encounter impacts their personalities. Jube abruptly becomes frequently bitter while Sorrow develops joy. Their changing moods negatively alter their relationships with other members of their homelands.

An ironic aspect regarding the world premiere, is having the original production performed shortly after the release of Pixar Animation Studio’s acclaimed movie, “Inside Out.” Both adventures deal with similar issues regarding essential emotions such as happiness and sadness. Although “Inside Out,” focuses on a sole twelve-year-old girl, Flipside finds humor in how the societies are dominated by just one mood.

17-year-old playwright, Sarah Broberg, displays plenty of promise with her dialogue. She knows how to create an interesting scenario to attract younger viewers, while her wit and worldbuilding will attract older audiences.

It can take a couple of minutes to appreciate the relentlessly upbeat Elatia. At first, it is not clear if theatregoers are supposed to be fascinated by the cheerful members or appalled by them. Elatia becomes very entertaining to watch when Jube realizes how he no longer fits in society. The more Jube becomes agitated with his life, the funnier the inhabitants become. Peterson has dramatic range, which is evident when Jube transforms into a completely different person.

Dysphoria, on the other hand, immediately captures the eye with director, Myles Vencill’s, gothic lighting design, comically grim costumes from the cast as well as The Broadway Theater, and the spooky set from co-owner Douglas Davis. Watching scenes in Dysphoria can at times feel like watching a classic Tim Burton film. As with Burton, the twisted characters get into mischievously humerous situations.

Peterson, Hastings and all the ensemble members are dryly funny, even when the stakes and conflicts rise. The young cast members appear to have a strong camaraderie, since they play off each other so well.

Although Broberg’s script is overall a jaunty and sometimes warped “dramatic comedy,” pacing issues exist during Act II. Act I goes by pretty quickly and is surprisingly tight for such a new theatrical piece. However, Act II packs in a lot of scenarios involving Jube’s absent dad, love interests for Jube and Sorrow and Jube possibly being forced into a career he does not even want. There is nothing necessarily wrong with the way the different parts of the tale are written, but the climax is overstuffed since so much has to be resolved.

Vencill’s direction manages to put the tale back on track whenever spectators are about to grow fidgety. His incorporation of props, visual slapstick and the way he stages action around the space have the craftsmanship of an old pro.

Without giving anything away, Broberg concludes her work with a brief epilogue that ends the journey on a hopeful note. Her decision to include a quick coda gives Flipside extra depth.

Regardless of being a little overlong, the talented Broberg has written a clever parable with an intriguing concept. With luck, her work will continue to be produced in the future.


[box] Show times are Friday at 7:30 p.m, Saturday at 1:00 p.m and 7:30 p.m, Sunday at 1:00 p.m and 7:30 p.m, and Monday at 1:00 p.m. [/box]

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