“Bill W. and Dr. Bob” at the Illusion

Bill and BobIf you ask a person if they know what AA is they are more than likely to say yes.  If asked who the founders are and/or why it began people may not be as quick to answer.  The show “Bill W. and Dr. Bob” at the Illusion Theater in downtown Minneapolis, stretches back in time to explore the beginning of Alcoholics Anonymous.  Not only does the show give insight into their journey but it explores their wives stories as well.

My friend Jack saw “Bill W. and Dr. Bob” a few years ago at the same theater but with a different cast.  Naturally I had to bring him along with me because he was already singing its praises.  After we saw it he said “This is the play that helped me realize that I like plays!  I loved it both times. It’s got a timing to it that feels like it’s always moving, and the comedic moments add levity to a heavy subject. But most of all I find it fascinating to experience the story of how AA and Al Anon began.”  In my experience, everyone knows of someone who has struggled with drinking so I believe it is relatable in some way to nearly every individual.

One reason I love musicals is they showcase multiple forms of entertainment: singing, dancing, acting, drama, comedy and so forth.  When seeing a straight play I am a bit more critical because you cannot cover up bad acting.  Articulation and emotion are key in believability and good acting.  The two lead men played by Jim Cunningham and Stephen D’Ambrose portrayed those qualities well.  As for the rest of the four actors that made up the troupe, Jack and I had differing opinions.  We also disagreed about the use of the piano during scene changes.  Sometimes I found it sweet but most of the time it felt abrupt.  He, on the other hand, enjoyed it.

Take aways for me were specific lines.  Dr. Bob stated “He wants more and settles for less.  I want less and settle for more.”  How interesting to see the way people view life.  Also, one of the wives exclaimed “You want to drink more than you want to live.”  A touching sentence that pulls weight because it is the truth.  Finally “The gift of sobriety.  The only way to keep it is to pass it on.”  That’s how it all started.  Passing it on.  Jack’s favorite line of the show was more comedic than my sensitive ones.  He liked “You could talk a dog off a meat wagon.”

I believe this show can reach a broad audience.  It gives a glimpse into the lives of the AA founders and their journey as they are “trying to find other drunks”.  For more information on the show check out the Illusion Theaters website: http://www.illusiontheater.org/

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