The title of Lisa Kron’s performance piece, “2.5 Minute Ride,” refers to a roller coaster ride at the midwestern amusement park her family treks to every year. Kron recounts one particular visit in which she accompanies her blind, diabetic father on the newest roller coaster, only to spend the entire ride terrified that he’ll have a heart attack. Her father, however, enjoys it immensely and considers the thrill “the best one yet.” The divergent experiences of father and daughter form the basis of Kron’s touching performance piece, which juxtaposes episodes from the amusement park and her brother’s wedding with a sojourn accompanying her father to Auschwitz, where his parents were killed.
The disparate tones of the varied stories provide Kron with an opportunity to evoke the surreal quality of her trip to the most notorious of all concentration camps. So many things are going through her mind — how will she react if her father cries, what if she doesn’t feel anything, should they pay an admission charge if there is one, should she go to the gift shop? — that she even stops her account at one point to say she isn’t even sure why she’s telling this story at all. After all, the audience already knows what happened there and what the place looks like.
This uncertainty, this sense that Kron is trying to express something deeply important to her without ever being able to put her finger on it, gives “2.5 Minute Ride” its evocative beauty. Kron is not the most talented performer — her attempt to physically portray her father comes across as highly superficial — and many of the stories she tells involve cliched family quirks. Nonetheless, her stories are given depth because of her sincerity and wonderful eye for ironic details.
Under Mark Brokaw’s direction and Kenneth Posner’s especially fine lighting design, this piece has an easy-going theatricality. Throughout the show, Kron describes a series of slide photos, which are actually just blank rectangles of light projected against the black curtain. As she continues to spin together the various stories, her descriptions of the pictures sometimes become a bit more fanciful and less realistic.
While the stories of her brother’s wedding often seem extraneous, the bizarre correlations between the amusement park and Auschwitz can be highly effective, and both of these tales place her father at the center.
A Holocaust survivor who became an army interrogator at the end of the war, Kron’s father has a particular take on life — symbolized by the titular roller coaster ride — that his daughter clearly admires even if she can’t emulate it.
After their trip to Europe together, Kron decided to make a video about her dad, but as she recounts her efforts to get him to tell his stories on camera, it becomes clear that, for all her good intentions, Kron can’t possibly sum up her father’s life on tape. Instead, she needs to tell us about it.