‘Every Five Minutes’ tackles dark story of hope

If we can break the human spirit so easily, what does it take to put it back together again?

That is the question audiences will ask themselves throughout “Every Five Minutes,” a production headed to the Des Moines Social Club on Friday. The 10-day stay at the social club will be the first time the production has been performed in the United States since the debut in April 2014 at the San Francisco Magic Theatre.

Todd Buchacker, the producing artistic director of StageWest Theatre Company, saw the show performed in San Francisco and fell in love with the production immediately, though he didn’t know why.

“I was moved by things, and I didn’t know why I was moved by them,” Buchacker said. “I was frightened by things in it and it stuck with me for days, weeks, months afterward.”

Buchacker knew if he was moved so deeply by the show, others would be as well.

The non-linear show tells the story of Mo, played by a professor at Drake University, John Graham. Mo is taken away and imprisoned for 17 years, though the audience is never told why. It is up to the viewers to create their own reality of why Mo has been accused.

“That part of it is inconsequential,” Buchacker said. “The story is really about this man’s journey back to life, so to speak. We kind of make the assumption that he’s been wrongly accused.”

When the story was previously told in San Francisco, the Scottish playwright said the audience made a connection to 9/11, although that is nowhere in the production itself. Buchacker noted that terrorist attacks are so often on our minds, and audiences in another area of the world, like France, may imprint events in Brussels or Paris to the storyline.

“Even though the story might be on the darker side of things, it is a story of hope and recovery and rebirth. It ends upbeat,” Buchacker said. “Not happily ever after, but hopefully ever after.”

Buchacker said the ending was just recently re-written by the playwright, so even though he saw the production two years ago, he looks forward to seeing the changes and bringing this story to metro audiences.

“One thing I’m not afraid to say that Des Moines audiences have not seen this type of theater, if ever, if not in a long time,” Buchacker said. “It is an exciting and different piece of theater than (audiences) are likely to see in the near future or recent past.”

If you go

“Every Five Minutes” will be at the Des Moines Social Club May 13-22. More information can be found at www.stagewestiowa.com.