PACA Brings Crocodile Fever to Erie
A darkly comic and intriguing examination of oppression
PREMIERING FRIDAY, JUN. 16
The Performing Arts Collective Alliance (PACA) is bringing the play Crocodile Fever to Erie, starring Lisa Simonian, Lara Schaaf, David W. Mitchell, and Zack Morta. First premiering in 2019 at the Traverse Theater in Edinburgh, Scotland, Meghan Tyler's play received acclaim for its dramatic moments, fast pace, and dark comedy which critics and audiences enjoyed.
"The dark comedy pits two Irish sisters against both their abusive father and the British government," PACA describes in the official synopsis. "Set during the 'Troubles,' what starts out as a divine story with lightning-fast dialogue between the sisters eventually uncovers the oppression of the reptile-like father that has left them so psychologically scarred. All of this erupts in a hugely-funny bloodbath when the boil of long-buried turmoil is finally faced."
Despite the darkness in the play, the comedy shines through. Even the actors were surprised about the tone of the play. "There's definitely an underlying heaviness to it, but overall it tries to keep an entertaining, humorous flow." Schaaf describes. "It's not your laugh out-loud [comedy], it's not stand-up. This is such a ridiculous situation; it's so far-fetched that it's funny."
Much of the comedy comes from the dialogue between the two sisters, played by Schaaf and Simonian. Playing off of the contrasts between the two, there's a natural chemistry that shines through in the performance. "You know when you're jamming and it kind of just works. It's like that, except with acting," Schaaf explains, comparing it to two musicians listening and adjusting their sound. Mitchell, who plays the father, thought of two words to describe his character: creepy and evil. "It's stuff I don't normally get to play and I haven't done anything like that in a very long time."
Throughout the show, the parallels between the family and the historical events are present. "The oppression is in the house, not just from the British military outside, but from the father." Mitchell said. "The oppression of the girls is reflected in the British oppression of Ireland. From the way the characters are written, you can just feel [in] the dialogue — their tragedies and their pain and their resentments. So much of it is in the foreground that you can't miss it."
With a review from The Guardian comparing the dialogue, comedy, and bloodshed to a Tarantino film, everyone at PACA is excited for the audience reaction on opening night. "We're hoping it's going to be like that with how we're setting things up with visual effects and surprises," Schaaf describes. "You think you know where it's going, and then it doesn't. It's bizarre but it's dark and funny."
Mitchell's response aptly describes Crocodile Fever: "It's not Neil Simon."
Premiering Friday, Jun. 16 and running Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays through Jul. 1 // 7 p.m. // PACA, 1505 State St. // $16 // For tickets and info: paca1505.org