Mall America

It seems like you can do or buy everything in Minnesota's Mall of America, the country's largest indoor retail shopping complex. But playwright Peter Sagal has turned the happy shopping destination into a scene of terror for his two-act drama, directed by Matt Kirkwood. Sagal's story is not about a mass shooting but rather what comes after for the survivors. It's a story that has been told frequently, and this script adds little new or interesting to the topic. The cast is uneven, but quality performances by leads Jane McPherson and Kyle Kaplan elevate the quality of several scenes in this predictable play.

The opening scene--staged by Kirkwood with palpable tension and horror--finds Allison (McPherson) on the ground cradling a teenage boy (Kaplan) in her arms. She's telling him a fairy tale, while lights, noises, and shadows flash around her. She lets go of the boy to reveal his bloody shirt. He and several others on a mall shuttle bus were shot to death by a man (Rob Elk). Allison was spared, but the ghost of the boy haunts her. They carry on conversations, have fights, and together plan to "do something" to make sure the killer, who is on trial, never hurts anyone again.

McPherson is believable as a grieving, shell-shocked victim, and young Kaplan delivers a mature performance. He has a knack for dark comedy, and his skills are sure to keep improving. The rapport between McPherson and Kaplan is engaging. David Cheaney, portraying another survivor, is effective, as are Damon Standifer and Stuart McLean as the investigating detective and as Allison's psychiatrist, respectively.

But even these decent performances don't make this two-hour play worth watching. Sagal's script is too long and repetitive, and it's less effective at exploring this type of tragedy than many one-hour TV crime dramas are.