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Carol and Cotton: Minnesota's Crime of the Century

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Carol and Cotton: Minnesota's Crime of the Century

By Partizan Theater



St. Paul, 1963. Carol and T. Eugene ('Cotton') Thompson are living the American Dream in a beautiful house with four beautiful children. What could possibly go wrong? Minnesota's Crime of the Century is what.

Drama

Historical content World premiere

Just so you know, this show has
Adult language

The creators say this show is appropriate for ages 14 and up

Other shows




Sample user reviews

Wow!!
by Colleen Puent Follow this reviewer
Rating 5 stars 
I read Bill Swanson's book, Dial M, so I had a good background regarding the details of this story -- but my partner didn't know anything about it. We both left the theater "blown-away" by the power of the story and the performances. Amazing job to take a complicated case and pare it down to an hour's time but convey the full impact of emotions, mishaps and tragedy -- I was on the edge of my seat wanting it to end differently. Although we are in the land of standing O's, I was on my feet at the end of this performance!

Gritty and hard-charging
by Margaret King Follow this reviewer
Rating 5 stars 
by Meg and Jen King

Steve Sweere commands the arena in his dual role of Cotton and Mastrian. He uses the entire performance space, seemingly making eye contact with every audience member, and his huge energy level electrifies the show. Catherine Justice, as Carol, proves a worthy counterpart to Sweere as she relates in chilling detail her own murder. The momentum of the straight-ahead storytelling is refreshing within the greater context of the Fringe.






Partizan Theater Recounts Minnesota's 'Crime of the Century' in a World Premiere at the Minnesota Fringe Festival


Next March 8 will be the 50th anniversary of Minnesota's 'Crime of the Century': the brutal murder of housewife Carol Thompson and the subsequent trials of the men charged with the crime.


Partizan Theater has crafted a harrowing and disturbing retelling of this twisted tale of love and passion, greed and ambition, all playing out in the leafy coziness of St. Paul's Highland Park neighborhood, in the world premiere, Carol and Cotton: Minnesota's Crime of the Century.


Anyone living in the Twin Cities at the time will remember the moment of picking up the evening paper that day, or hearing the first confused radio broadcasts: a middle class housewife brutally slaughtered in the sanctity of her home, stabbed and battered beyond recognition, shortly after sending her kids off to school and her husband off to work. Until then in the Twin Cities doors were left unlocked, kids left to play in parks unattended. But the mood changed overnight as there was a run on locks and guns and dogs for protection. Clearly a maniac was on the loose, and anyone was fair game to be the next random victim.


What really happened, of course, was far more complicated than this simple reading of events. And Partizan Theater's Carol and Cotton shows the lurid, evil machinations lurking beneath the placid surface of this picture of benign domesticity, and etches an unforgettable portrait of the tawdry characters drawn into this bizarre plot.


Starring Catherine Johnson Justice (the Guthrie Theater, Ten Thousand Things, Pillsbury House Theater, Jungle Theater and many more), and Steve Sweere (The Guthrie Theater, The Jungle Theater, The Children's Theaterr, Park Square Theater, Pangea World Theater and many more) and produced by the company that has had three top five Fringe shows (Shtick, and Its Relation to the Unconscious, The Princeton Seventh, and Angelina Jolie is a Zionist Whore, or Plan 9 from Baghdad), Carol and Cotton: Minnesota's Crime of the Century is the perfect spine-tingling antidote to the Fringe's mix of comedy, puppetry, dance and storytelling.  



Cast + crew

Catherine Johnson Justice*
Role: Carol/Jackie
IMG_2440[1]

Catherine is thrilled to be performing in her fourth Partizan Theater production for the Minnesota Fringe Festival, having previously appeared in Angelina Jolie is a Zionist Whore!, or, Plan 9 from Baghdad; Something Witchy; and The Princton Seventh. Other Twin Cities theater credits include productions with: The Guthrie Theater, Ten Thousand Things, Pillsbury House Theater, Theatre de la Jeune Lune, Emigrant Theater, The Jungle Theater, Workhaus Collective, The Playwrights Center, Thirst Theater, Illusion Theater, Starting Gate, Gremlin Theater, and many others. Film Credits include The Quietest Sound ("Best Actress", Fargo Film Festival), Two Harbors, Light and Darkness, How to Kill a Mockingbird, and Overnight Delivery. Catherine is a graduate of the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London and Carleton College in Northfield, MN. Catherine will next be appearing in Dark and Stormy Productions' inaugural show, Outside Providence; performing Aug. 17 – Sept. 15. www.darkstormy.org

*Member, Actor' Equity Association


Steve Sweere*
Role: Cotton/Mastrian
Steve Sweere

Steve is an actor, writer, husband, and father - though not necessarily in that order. As a performer he has worked for The Guthrie Theater, The Jungle Theater, The Children's Theater, Park Square Theater, Pangea World Theater, and darn near every other theater that has ever needed a warm body to fill space upon their stage.

"I tend to play Oakies and assholes...and I'm grateful for the work."


*Member, Actors' Equity Association

Walter X Sroka
Role: Stage manager

James Vculek
Role: Writer/director

Partizan Theater
Role: Producer
This is Partizan Theater's sixth Minnesota Fringe Festival show in the last nine years, three of which have been Top 5 shows. Past productions include "Shtick, and Its Relation to the Unconscious," starring Ari Hoptman and Richard Ooms at the 2003 Fringe; the 2005 production of "The Princeton Seventh" with Ari, Alex Cole, Catherine Johnson Justice and James Cada; "Something Witchy" at the 2009 Fringe, starring Catherine, Lindsey Alexandra Hartley and Chris Carlson; a remount of "The Princeton Seventh" at the 2010 Fringe, with Ari, Alex, Richard and Alayne Hopkins; and "Angelina Jolie is a Zionist Whore! or, Plan 9 from Baghdad" at the 2011 Fringe, starring Catherine, Ari, Alex and Josh Will.
Partizan Theater's film arm, Partizan Pictures, has produced two award-winning feature films: "Two Harbors" (2005), starring Catherine Johnson Justice, Alex Cole, Ari Hoptman and Richard Ooms; and "The Quietest Sound" (2006) starring Catherine Johnson Justice, Chris Carlson, and Michael Tezla. Currently in post-production and awaiting a spring 2013 festival launch is "The Confession of Lee Harvey Oswald" starring Jim Lichtscheidl and Bruce Hyde. In pre-production is "The Nudlemans of Beaver Bay" starring Ari Hoptman and Alex Cole.

Write a review

You will be able to write a review for this show during the festival.


User reviews

Well Executed!
by Nannette Montgomery
Rating 5 stars
As I watched two veteran actors play out multiple roles I am once again spellbound by the art of good writing,acting and direction.

"Fargo" in the round, with less snow.
by Amy Salloway
Rating 5 stars
I went into this show knowing nothing except the fact that I've always admired James Vculek's writing and trusted that he'd probably created another good piece of theatre. I was correct. (Yay! I like being correct.) This was a fascinating, engaging, tightly-crafted little gem of a two-person show that demonstrates perfectly how richly plot, mood, environment and character can be fleshed out in just 50 little minutes. I kept watching Steve Sweere's face as he played two different characters and thinking "I am seeing this man literally change faces. How is he doing that?!?" The contrast between Catherine's stillness and Steve's pacing...the spare but haunting sound cues...excellent. The copious laughs in a grisly murder story? Priceless.

But iron your dress, please
by Publius McGee
Rating 5 stars
I got lost in the performances - Partizan Theater never disappoints. Outstanding all around.

Well, there goes Plan A
by Cato Brutus
Rating 4 stars
A solid production. Well-acted and riveting. My only complaint is that some of the post-incarceration introspection felt like a forced attempt to add depth to the ending.

VERY GOOD!
by Eliz D
Rating 5 stars
Although the story is heart breaking this production was wonderful! Beautifully performed. Very simple blocking but very effective. Loved this show! So glad I saw it!

Crime Story
by Mary Lundberg-Johnson
Rating 5 stars
A very fine telling of a classic Minnesota crime story. Strong acting from both Catherine and Steve as they brought their characters to life. Now I am planning to do some more reading about this cold blooded murder.

Excellent
by Jeanne Shields
Rating 5 stars
This is what theater is all about. The audience entered a moment in time and were held captive as the story played out. Excellent writing and excellent acting. Anyone who missed it, missed something great.

Wow!
by Caroline Toll
Rating 5 stars
I don't know if it was the writing, or the acting, or the dark story line, but this show held me completely spellbound until end. I highly recommend it!

I never knew
by Katonya Strickland
Rating 4 stars
Wow, these two told this story very well. I never knew about the case. Afterwards I instantly wanted to go home and Google the case. This was worth seeing.

Who needs the ID channel?
by Valerie Stachour
Rating 5 stars
If you are a lover of true crime or history-based drama, this is the show for you. The script is tightly written and fast-paced without ever leaving anyone behind. The two actors are each playing more than one character, and seem to shift effortlessly from one to another. My only quibble was that the acting became a bit "shouty" at times- I wish the portrayal of anger had been a bit more nuanced. Still, a fantastic show!

A show to see!
by Bradley Johnson
Rating 5 stars
It can be unsettling to watch a Fringe show about a murder that happened in our own backyard nearly 50 years ago. At the same time, the performance was so well done that I riveted in my seat as the story unfolded. Worth seeing!

Compelling
by ian felton
Rating 4 stars
The acting draws you in and the writing keeps you interested.

I didn't know about this story and now I want to know more.

Magic Moment
by Bri Collins
Rating 5 stars
Tonight I was reminded why I love theater. There are those moments in a show when you actually stop and think "does it get better than this?" And the magic is so palatable you feel like you can breathe it in and maybe if you can hold your breath you might be able to hold on to that magic a little while longer.

This show was one of those moments for me. The acting is impeccable. The simplicity of the design is brilliant and gives homage to the saying "less is more." You have to make this a top priority when considering which shows to see. I'm still trying to hold my breath.

True Crime Drama in MN
by Fringivitis Vulgaris
Rating 4 stars
Wow! This was a sleeper hit for me. Two skilled performers show us a local married couple going from 1960s wedded comfort to marital discontent and tragedy. The male lead adeptly plays several characters back to back. The local connection made this even more entertaining for me. Recommended viewing!

Eerie and delightful.
by Frayed Edge
Rating 5 stars
Two very skilled actors present dueling monologue recollections of the parts that various people played in a botched murder.

A poignant, sad, terrifying, humorous and compelling look at human emotion and empathy. Tightly directed and performed.

Go see this.

Scale:
0-Terrible
1-Tell your friends not to go
2-A bad fringe show, below par for the festival. Don't Bother
3-Worth seeing, don't go out of your way.
4-Good to Great. Make time for this show.
5-Absolutely outstanding. A great show, festival or otherwise.

Compelling high cotton.
by Steve Hendrickson
Rating 4 stars
I'm old enough to remember the incident this play is based on but didn't know most of the details. Steve Sweere and Cat Johnson have serious acting chops and really deliver. Sweere brings three distinctive characterizations to the stage and Johnson gives Carol an uncloying innocence. Writer/director James Vculek has been quietly building an impressive body of work both onscreen and onstage. He is able to take this event beyond mere journalism and get to the human grit beneath. I'd see this one again if I could.

Wow!!
by Colleen Puent
Rating 5 stars
I read Bill Swanson's book, Dial M, so I had a good background regarding the details of this story -- but my partner didn't know anything about it. We both left the theater "blown-away" by the power of the story and the performances. Amazing job to take a complicated case and pare it down to an hour's time but convey the full impact of emotions, mishaps and tragedy -- I was on the edge of my seat wanting it to end differently. Although we are in the land of standing O's, I was on my feet at the end of this performance!

Gritty and hard-charging
by Margaret King
Rating 5 stars
by Meg and Jen King

Steve Sweere commands the arena in his dual role of Cotton and Mastrian. He uses the entire performance space, seemingly making eye contact with every audience member, and his huge energy level electrifies the show. Catherine Justice, as Carol, proves a worthy counterpart to Sweere as she relates in chilling detail her own murder. The momentum of the straight-ahead storytelling is refreshing within the greater context of the Fringe.

Intense
by Mark Long
Rating 4 stars
I don't know if it is the crime of the century in Minnesota, but it's worth seeing for the wonderful actors that take you through it. This is a tense, tight series of monologues recounting a disgusting crime in St. Paul.

An exceptional Fringe offering
by Florence Brammer
Rating 5 stars
This show has it all: a tight script without a wasted word AND exceptional acting by Steve Sweere and Catherine Johnson Justice. Sweere is one of my favorite local actors, and his portrayals are truly chilling and memorable. A fascintating, disturbing and historical tale not to be missed.

Great drama
by Kelly Rosenthal
Rating 5 stars
Tremendous writing and acting in this one. Minimalist set and stark lighting really focuses you on the actors and the story.

Carol and Cotton
by Michelle Farley
Rating 5 stars
Very well done! I didn't know anything about this famous crime, although a number of people in line with me remembered it. A little intense, if you have violence triggers.

Sad story, great acting
by Rena Rasch
Rating 4 stars
The actors juggled multiple personalities effortlessly.

A Must See!
by Valerie Garber
Rating 5 stars
Don't miss this play! The script by James Vculek tells this true crime story in clever and riveting manner. Fabulous acting by Catherine Elizabeth Johnson Justice and Steve Sweere, who both play more than one role. With almost nothing in terms of props or set, the strong acting really brings this dark moment in St. Paul history to life.

Historical crime
by luann monahan
Rating 5 stars
This show was amazingly done. The writing and the acting are outstanding. Based on the true story, it takes some liberties in assuming how this crime went down but from what I've read about this horrific crime it seems pretty accurate. A must see during the fest.

For drama and history lovers
by Marcia Avner
Rating 5 stars
This is a fine story well told. "Ditto" to the reviewer who called it riveting. Fine performances, a tight and well wrought script, and a bit of MN history that will have everyone googling the events and characters on which it is based.

Storytelling at it's finest
by Will Weisert
Rating 5 stars
Wonderful writing interpreted beautifully by Sweere and Justice. While the story of T. Eugene Thompson predates many in the audience, it's part of Minnesota legend and receives a fine treatment here.

Riveting!
by Nancy Goldstein
Rating 5 stars
Don't miss this excellent play--the writing was superb and the acting was fabulous. The true story was masterfully told.

Gets under your skin
by Greg Giles
Rating 4 stars
Excellent work by all involved. Sweere is particularly adept at drawing us in with his eork. Moves a bit slowly at times, but never drags. Recommended

great historical drama!
by Vicki Joan Keck
Rating 4 stars
I was interesting in the content of this show when I read the blurb, but when I saw who was involved I was sold! Fantastic acting, especially by Sweere,who has to handle multiple roles. Solid storytelling and dramatic ethos. This is Guthrie quality - see it!

Compelling Historical Fiction
by Mark Mikula
Rating 4 stars
I very much enjoyed Steve Sweere's portrayal of two very different characters involved in the crime referred to in the show title. He did a great job making them distinct and layered. The show was most successful in drawing on themes related to class and entitlement. Catherine Johnson Justice was also effective in her primary role and a very limited secondary role. I would have liked the balance to have been a little more equal between the two performers, but the story might not have allowed for that. I was glad to have learned about this part of local history through the performance.

Sparse works!
by Ari Hoptman
Rating 5 stars
I am admittedly a bit biased as I have worked with James Vculek on several occasions. But that also means I can appreciate his work up close. This play is the telling of a crime that happened in the Twin Cities some years ago, done by two actors with two chairs and two props. That it works so well is a tribute to Mr. Vculek and the very fine actors. Excellent stuff and very worth your time.

Fan-freaking-tastic
by Jana Kramer
Rating 5 stars
You have to see this show. The subject, the writing, the acting--all entirely engrossing. The (true) story is of the you-can't-make-this-stuff-up variety. The actors are wonderful, and really become their characters on a minimalist set. Well paced, great storytelling. This is a dark show, but with plenty of humor.

wow!
by Philip Geller
Rating 5 stars
Great writing! Tremendous acting! And it is all based on a true story.

Very solid.
by Eric Salo
Rating 4 stars
Steve Sweere plays two very different characters and somehow manages to make them both unlikeable while maintaining the audience's interest. Catherine Justice does well with what she's given but this particular show is really all about the men. In that, it succeeds.

Minimalist Drama Done Right
by Alexander Santo
Rating 5 stars
A pair of stools and the actors' clothes are all that set the stage, but the performances and storytelling are extremely vivid nonetheless. A very solid hour of Minnesota based drama.

Corn Bos eat yr heart out
by Bill Hensley
Rating 5 stars
Best first show of the festival ever. Great historical intrigue performed flawlessly. HIGHLY recommended.

Schedule

Thursday, 8/27:00 p.m.
Friday, 8/35:30 p.m.
Saturday, 8/45:30 p.m.
Friday, 8/108:30 p.m.
Saturday, 8/115:30 p.m.

Venue

U of M Rarig Center Arena venue information
330 21st Av S, Second Floor