Fasten your belt: Ups and downs in Des Moines

“I like plays that are not too neat, too finished, too presentable,” says Charles Mee, a playwright, novelist, and historian. “My plays are broken, jagged, filled with sharp edges, filled with things that take sudden turns, careen into each other, smash up, veer off in sickening turns. That feels good to me. It feels like my life. It feels like the world.”
Live Arts continues their current season with Summer Evening in Des Moines, a production that embodies Mee’s view of the world.
Mee’s play is a postmodern comedy that follows eight eccentric characters– including a man in a mouse suit, a ventriloquist, and a beautiful woman– during their long, strange trip through the amusement park of life. Since his battle with polio at the age of 14, Mee has re-imagined himself and his life numerous times, realizing that life is not something we can control, and that the cosmos is about randomness and unpredictability.
In this semi-autobiographical play, Mee dices and slices the elements of reality, and then pieces everything back together in a new way that allows his characters to reinterpret life and love.
Production Artistic Director Christina Courtenay says the first time she read the play she fell madly in love with it– a rare experience. “The journey Mee took me on was so fantastical, yet somehow absolutely real; it works on so many levels,” she explains.
Courtenay is certainly not alone in her admiration of Mee’s work, which is being  produced at many theaters lately. In fact, you can catch a production of his play, Big Love, in April, when the Drama Department at UVA brings it to their main stage.
“This metaphorical journey with a roller coaster plot is a wonderful celebration of life and a truly unforgettable imaginative spectacle of music, color, and exciting events that you don’t want to miss!” boasts Ronda Hewitt, general manager for Live Arts. Tickets are on sale now, so you have a chance to see if you’d agree.

Summer Evening in Des Moines continues at Live Arts through March 29. 609 E. Market St. Wednesdays-Saturdays with one Tuesday performance on March 25 and one Sunday matinees on March 23 at 2pm. 8pm most evenings. $11-14. 977-4177.