Cast: Brian Murray, Elisabeth Henry, Jessica Pimentel, Nana Visitor, Tyne Daly
A BREAD FACTORY, PART ONE and TWO: Both films included with single admission.
After the cliffhanger (of sorts) that closes Part One, A BREAD FACTORY, PART TWO starts with a stage. The local production of the Greek play Hecuba is getting underway, but the hangover from the municipal standoff in Part One has left the town in a swirl. While tourists and real estate agents dance in the streets (it’s a musical!), Dorothea starts to question the future of her work in theater. But the show will go on. It’s the nature of living, breathing, persevering.
In fact, after the goal-oriented drama of Part One, PART TWO embarks on a more dramatically loose and audacious exploration of the division between performance and reality, with amateurs finding their way on stage and everyday life enhanced with monologue and story-telling. Sometimes it’s played for laughs, as when tap dancers keep their eyes on cell phones. But sometimes it’s about finding the fire in our bones to perform. The stage is a place to yearn; it’s “poor people’s therapy,” we’re reminded. If Part One assumed that there is social value and artistry in community theater, PART TWO proves it with Brechtian flair and scene-stealing acting, from the exacting delivery of the late Brian Murray, to a refreshing back-and-forth between Janet Hsieh and George Young, muffled by Daft Punk helmets in Part One.
Shifting between different registers of comedy and the musical, A BREAD FACTORY, PART TWO is most tender when it emerges as a romance. There are many kinds of love in the film, especially the deep affection the characters (and the film) have with old professions: journalism, acting. These are the institutions that challenge and comfort us. But no bedrock is as stable as the warmth of those who have always been there: the life partners that see us through and keep our lights shining.