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REVIEW: A Sometimes There’s Wine Appetizer (Park Square)

Shanan Custer and Carolyn Pool created and star in Sometimes There’s Wine, now playing at Park Square Theatre in Saint Paul. Photo by Flordelino Lagundino.

There’s a lot of Fringe going on at Park Square Theatre this season. The company’s 2018-2019 features not just the demented musical Jefferson Township Sparkling Junior Talent Pageant, but also the currently playing Sometimes There’s Wine.

In case you missed it the first time around, Sometimes There’s Wine premiered in 1-hour format at the 2016 Minnesota Fringe Festival, earning an award from the Arts Reader. The basic premise – a series of vignettes that inevitably involve ladies sipping or chugging wine – retains much of the charm of its original engagement. Added are a number of episodes that firmly ground this incarnation in contemporary times, with interwoven soundbytes from recent political discourse and cyberbullying (both, admittedly, things that might lend themselves more to tequila). The two-woman show stars co-creators Shanan Custer and Carolyn Pool and, in this appearance, is directed by Angela Timberman.

One of the challenges of building a show around one-theme vignettes is the risk of monotony. The varied pacing, sharp wit, and you-wish-you-could-blurt-that-out-loud lines keep things fresh, and the time passes quickly. A drink before wouldn’t hurt, but neither is it necessary to enjoy Custer and Pool playing off each other. (Do not, however, try the recommended candy and wine pairings in the program.)

Sometimes There’s Wine unfolds on a simple but effective set by Sadie Ward, lit by Michael P. Kittel and with a few sound cues by Eric Webster. Like the best girls’ nights out, it’s the company (onstage and off) that matters.

Sometimes There’s Wine plays through October 21 at Park Square Theatre in St. Paul, MN.

Amy Donahue