Mirrorbox invites drive-ins for humorous, heartfelt, thought-provoking production ‘The Parking Lot’

The Parking Lot

opens Friday, Sept. 18 at 7:30 p.m. -- CSPS Hall parking lot; $40 per vehicle

Marcia and Scot Hughes in Mirrorbox Theatre’s production of ‘The Parking Lot. — Rob Merritt/Mirrorbox Theatre

Picture this: Several strangers gathered around in their cars, watching a married couple go through the pros and cons of a relationship on the verge of divorce. No, this isn’t your weekly trip to Walmart or your neighbor’s driveway — it’s the Mirrorbox Theatre production of The Parking Lot.

A socially distanced, pandemic-proof theatrical drive-in experience, The Parking Lot is directed by Cavan Hallman from the new play by Adam Szymkowicz, and stars Marcia and Scot Hughes. This show is infinitely more than a public therapy session. It’s a humorous, heartfelt and thought-provoking narrative for all of us in life’s “parking lot.”

The characters Terry (Scot) and J (Marcia) do a wonderful job at engaging with the audience and inviting us to join them on a journey through their past and their problems. Are most of their pivotal moments (which happen to have taken place in a parking lot) now just a wasteland of nothingness? Or is their future together a blank canvas full of hope and possibility?

Marcia and Scot Hughes in Mirrorbox Theatre’s production of ‘The Parking Lot. — Rob Merritt/Mirrorbox Theatre

With popular music scored lightly in the background of the radio dialogue (sound design — Bri Atwood), each of the 20 scenes are set up to pull on the emotions and internal dilemmas within each and every one of us. You don’t have to be married to connect with the social messages of this piece, nor do you even have to be in a relationship — you simply have to listen and reflect.

As tallies are written in chalk on the pavement, the couple reenact memories and what-ifs to help them decide whether or not they’re in love and, really, if love is enough. But between some teary eulogies, powerful feminist monologues and funny observations, The Parking Lot reaches for a higher level of wonderment. Scot and Marcia Hughes impart questions that, if we care enough, we have already asked ourselves: What can I do to better the world? Am I happy? And most importantly, do I know that I am worthy of love?

But don’t mistake this for a dramatic, cheesy substitute for your Nicholas Sparks binge. Terry and J have fun with a scooter obstacle course, an exceptionally fancy couch (for a parking lot) and the ability to make me forget that I’ve been smiling for the last five minutes. In a time when gathering to appreciate the arts seems like a distant memory and even Netflix doesn’t sound appealing anymore, The Parking Lot is the opportunity we’ve been missing. It’s an outlet to remember that the arts are changing — forever, maybe — but they will never cease to do what they have always done: form us into deeper, better versions of ourselves.

Scot and Marcia Hughes in Mirrorbox Theatre’s production of ‘The Parking Lot. — Rob Merritt/Mirrorbox Theatre

After an enjoyably fast-paced duration of slightly over an hour, the couple come to a rather simple decision that may leave the audience with mixed reviews. However, it stays true with the overall theme of the production: Life is messy, people are complicated — but there has to be some shred of shared humanity. The perception of the ending lies individually in our own desires, outlook and thresholds. Terry and J are simply a stand-in for the billions of others who ever had to face the decision of whether to stay parked or to change gears.

The Parking Lot runs Sept. 18-26 in Cedar Rapids at the CSPS Hall parking lot. Tickets are $40 per vehicle, and the crew will inform you of which radio station to tune into once you’re all settled in for the show. Be sure to turn off your lights, crack a window and enjoy the view over your steering wheel.

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