Riverside Theatre’s 2022-23 season holds potential for greatness

From solo shows highlighting the struggles of the human experience to ones physically moving the audience between rooms, the selection of shows for Riverside’s 2022-23 season have potential for greatness.

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Dimia Burrell

The outside of the Riverside Theatre is seen at the Pedestrian Mall in Iowa City on Friday, April 8, 2022.

Jami Martin-Trainor, Assistant Digital Editor


Riverside Theatre has garnered a reputation throughout Iowa City for putting on diverse and unique shows every season. The 2022-23 selection is no exception to this trend.

From solo shows highlighting the struggles of the human experience to ones that physically move the audience between rooms, the lineup of shows Riverside has planned were methodically chosen for the Iowa City audience.

 Chipmunk’d

The first show in Riverside Theatre’s 2022-23 season is a one-woman show by Megan Gogerty titled “Chipmunk’d.” The piece follows a character also named Megan Gogerty as she gets bit by a chipmunk, which spirals her life into a chain of events that gets progressively outlandish.

Gogerty said this piece reflected a very difficult time in her life. Rather than wallowing in her own despair, she chose to make art out of it.

As a solo piece, there are certain difficulties in keeping an audience entertained with a single character on stage. Adam Knight, the artistic director of Riverside Theatre, said that Riverside was particularly good at keeping audiences engaged.

“That’s something I think Riverside particularly does well, which is provide this kind of high-level acrobatics where one person can keep the audience around for the completion of the story,” Knight said. “That’s not an easy thing to do.”

“Chipmunk’d” is premiering on Sept. 9 and runs until Oct. 2.

The Weir

The next show Riverside Theatre is presenting is “The Weir,” written by Conor McPherson and directed by Knight. Knight. Knight said “The Weir” is the first “spooky show” that Riverside Theatre has done in a while, making for a perfect October premiere.

The show follows a cast of five characters who are all haunted in some way, shape, or form, and as the night passes, the truth is progressively revealed.

Riverside Theatre’s new location in the Iowa City Pedestrian Mall has been known to provide a more intimate experience, which Knight said is ideal for the setting of “The Weir” — a small, Irish bar.

“We thought this was an opportunity to bring the play back to its intimate, small-theater roots. The play essentially puts you in the room with these five individuals who, for whatever reason, are haunted by different things, and then their stories kind of come out in the course of a long evening,” Knight said. “I love the idea of being in that room together and kind of feeling like you’re a fly on the wall.”

“The Weir” premieres on Oct. 14 and shows until Oct. 30.

The Flick

“The Flick” pays tribute to the power of movies, and its show in Iowa City uniquely contrasts what movie theaters look like in the present.

The show follows three young employees who are working at one of the last theaters with 35-millimeter projectors. Knight described this piece as hard to watch at times, due to the raw emotion of seeing large corporations limit the need for a communal space to watch movies.

Knight said he saw this show premiere in New York, and the plot spoke to him on a personal level. He said the characters in this play are not the type of people who are typically written about — young people working a minimum wage job with a niche interest.

The location in Iowa City was also something Knight noted, saying that contrasting a story of a dying theater with the ever-lively FilmScene so close by was an interesting comparison.

“In some ways, it felt kind of the opposite of FilmScene,” Knight said. “FilmScene kind of came in and became a movie theater that was amazing in the community and also was an amazing place to work.”

“The Flick” begins showing on Nov. 25, and the final show is on Dec. 11.

A Walk in the Woods

The first show planned for the spring season is “A Walk in the Woods,” written by Lee Blessing and directed by Ron Clark, one of the founders of Riverside Theatre.

“A Walk in the Woods” is a melding of a common activity with deep and lasting implications. The story follows two superpower arms negotiators from the 1980s as they go on nature walks to solve the looming issue of nuclear proliferation and prevent a catastrophic war.

Knight said that while the play takes place during the cold war, the topics addressed are concerningly applicable today. Amid the Russia and Ukraine conflict, Knight attests that themes brought up in “A Walk in the Woods” are not finished being discussed.

“What I find so interesting about it is that so many of the questions that this play raises are all of a sudden incredibly pertinent to know — How can two countries who might not really understand each other keep from essentially starting World War Three?” Knight said.

Premiering on Jan. 26, the final performance of “A Walk in the Woods” is on Feb. 12.

Fefu and her Friends

The final show Riverside announced for the 2022-23 season is titled “Fefu and her Friends.” written by Maria Irene Fornés and directed by Juliana Kleist-Mendez. When describing this play, Knight said this is one of the more unique and ambitious projects that Riverside Theatre has tackled.

“One of the things that’s so unique about this play is that the audience splits up,” Knight said. “The audience splits into four sections, and then kind of goes to different rooms to watch different private events that happen with the characters.”

“Fefu and her Friends” is described as an experimental work that addresses themes of feminism and sexuality. The play follows eight women from New England in the 1930s as the audience physically moves between different locations to explore the stories of these women.

Knight said that much like a show from last season, “Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812,” “Fefu and her Friends” provides a challenge to the cast that has an opportunity to highlight the high quality of theater that Riverside can produce.

“I think it’s important that we continue to stretch ourselves with this new space, and really surprise and delight our audiences,” Knight said.

“Fefu and her Friends” opens on March 10, and the final showing is on April 2.

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