2.5 Minute Ride

At Hartford Stage

By: - Jun 20, 2024

Our lives are filled with memories. Lisa, the main character in 2.5 Minute Ride, wants to share memories of her father, his life, and her relationship with him. The autobiographical play by Lisa Kron is at Hartford Stage through Sunday, June 23.

It begins as a slide show talk by Lisa about her father. Rather than actual slides, the screen shows rectangles of solid colors, but Lisa acts as though these are real photographs, sometimes moving close to the screen to point out people to the audience. She even comments about a misplaced slide. It’s just like a typical amateur talk at a local club before the days of video cameras.

It is clear that she and her father had a very special relationship.

The title refers to the length of one of the roller coaster rides at the Sandusky, Ohio, amusement park that she and her extended family visit annually. Her father and she are the only members of the extended family who ride the multiple roller coasters.

You could say that these roller coasters are a metaphor for her father’s life. The first thing she tells the audience about him is that he was part of the Kindertransport – one of the children/teens whose parents put them on trains to escape Nazi Germany; while others were relocated to England and Canada, he went to the U.S.

Cron alternates stories of the annual amusement park trip with memories of another trip she and her father took – to Auschwitz, where his parents were killed.

What makes her recounting of this trip remarkable is that she artfully combines the haunting and the mundane. She describes the harrowing ride from the Netherlands with their former exchange student at the wheel, careening over bumps and around turns; commenting on the limitations of Polish food; and also searching for the bag of eyeglasses of various strengths her father carries with him that got misplaced during the visit to the camp.

Lisa also talks about her father’s time in the Army as an interrogator stationed in Germany and his ambiguous feelings about how he dealt with a German soldier whose lack of remorse bothered him.

2.5 Minute Ride may, at times, seem as though it jumps between memories that aren’t connected; by the end of the play (it is approximately 70 minutes), they have combined to create a powerful effect about family, the past, and how we process the moral uncertainties. She recalls her father saying, “If I hadn’t been born a Jew, I might have become a Nazi.”

Originally, Kron starred in the play, which was produced at Hartford Stage in 2002.

This production features Lena Kaminsky as Lisa, directed by Zoë Golub-Sass. The scenic design by Judy Gallen is a wall of boxlike shapes. Golub-Sass and Kaminsky effectively focus our attention on a small area of Hartford’s large stage area.

Kaminsky’s performance combines wry commentary—she is well aware of her family’s idiosyncrasies—with the desire to convey her connection to her father and his story.

As Artistic Director Melia Bensussen states in the program notes, this play was selected for the 2023-24 season more than 2 years ago. That this recollection of the Holocaust seems so relevant today is haunting but also disheartening that we need reminding of the price of religious prejudice and hate.

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This content is courtesy of Shore Publications and