Left of Left Center doubles down on ‘Beta Blockers: The Refill’

Left of Left Center doubles down on ‘Beta Blockers: The Refill’
'Brian does a very good job of being yelled at by me.' Compton (left) and Brian Metrish star in the short play 'I Am What You Are.' 

Jason Compton considers a moment before settling on the adjective pairing to best describe Beta Blockers: The Refill, the collection of short plays the Left of Left Center (LOLC) group will barnstorm through Madison and its surrounding communities starting tonight.

He waits another moment, then hits on it.

Unapologetically brainy.

In case you missed the Madison performance of the original Beta Blockers last February (local playwright and LOLC founder Ned O’Reilly originally wrote and debuted it at last year’s Rhinofest Play Festival in Chicago) the concept’s not really about prescription drugs.

“It’s more about the chemicals people depend on to get through life,” explains Compton, who’ll direct two of the show’s seven short, O’Reilly-penned plays and stars in a third. “Things like love, stress and hormones. That’s basically an endless supply of material right there.”

Left of Left Center’s barely a year old, but it’s already attracted a regular cast of local actors who are drawn to the troupe’s spontaneous, guerrilla-style type of theater, where performances jump around to different nontraditional venues. As Compton puts it, “this is a company where there’s unlikely to ever be a master season announcement.”

“The nice thing about working with this model is that there aren’t many rules to follow,” he adds. “There’s a frantic notion of working with an original script, when you know you’re putting together a premiere work and taking it to a different venue every night. It encourages people to open up about how they’d like to see it done.”

Compton stars in the short play “I Am What You Are,” a prequel to an unpublished O’Reilly script that finds Compton and Brian Metrish (who’ll be acting in a knee brace, thanks to recent surgery) playing two different aspects of a man dealing with a marital conflict.

“Brian ends up literally anchoring the scene,” jokes Compton. “He also does a very good job of being yelled at by me.”

For this particular barnstorming run, LOLC is returning to some familiar venues—tonight’s show at the Goodman Center and a Saturday, October 24 performance at one of their personal favorites, the Firefly Café in Oregon—and adding in a Monday, November 2 show at The High Noon Saloon, a new venue for the group. Compton says the troupe’s hoping to stage future shows in South Madison and make a return to Madison’s west side, where they performed the play Spirits to Enforce last summer.

“When audiences came out of the original Beta Blockers, we had a lot of people asking, ‘When are you going to do another one?'” says Compton. “I’m excited we’ve been bring out another collection as quickly as we have.”

Beta Blockers: The Refill opens October 23 at the Goodman Center and runs through November 2 at various locations. For a schedule and to make reservations, click here.