"We had the world end, once . . ."
An Evening of One-Acts
Emerging Artists Theatre
Paul Adams, artistic director
March 7th - March 26th, 2006
review by Louis Lopardi
EAT's latest series of 1-acts featured costumes by Melanie Blythe, a flexible repertory lighting design by Jenny Granrud, and a thoughtful set by Robert Monaco consisting of black squares floating on fields of varyingly textured taupe - (Were they latent picture frames or characters' thoughts which happened to lodge in the air?) - especially appropriate to Staci Swedeen's dark play.
The Secret of Our Success
Staci Swedeen’s play about a young couple attempting to take possession of a new apartment still inhabited by a former tenant with a very dark secret. The tenant Paul, a proto street-crazy who has gone through more than one "rough patch," was perfectly underplayed by A. J. Handegard. As the young couple, Patrick Arnheim and Aimee Howard were both believable and controlled, even in their more exciting moments, but had a tendency to lapse into room-tone rather than project, thus making an already difficult play seem harder-edged. (The acoustics in the former Mint Theater are unforgiving.)
Derek Jamison, whose work with short forms is usually excellent, here seemed to be directing at odds with the play - often staid and formal where comedic blocking and delivery were needed. A painfully static production, with actors determinedly guarding their relative stage spaces for the first twenty minutes, gave us plenty of comic lines and situations but without the visual takes and timings necessary to set-up an audience for manipulation to come. The pacing dragged slowly enough to actually distort the amount of time actors spent doing off-stage business. Some deft editing could have helped.
Kevin Brofsky’s touching vérité playlet is built on a premise that felt rather forced, with twin towers rampant as a stand-in for twin nuclear bombs. With one child having been lost on 9/11, and another now missing during a canoe trip, Brofsky’s couple gives us lightly and surely a heartfelt examination of loss and the suspension of disbelief. Unobtrusively directed by Kel Haney.
Steven Hauck handily creates the illusion of the beleaguered husband dealing with his own loss and grief, who can "act" as normal as he dares. A dangerous game at best for any spouse. His just-enough badgering of his wife Ann believably prompts her outburst: "I’m just telling you how I cope!" Irene Glezos has a way of eliciting a suitable devastation in the face of loss. You feel that even if you’ve "been there" you’ve never quite "done that." Forced as some of the analogies were, by the play’s end, with the touching revisitation of the story of the man from Nagasaki who simply "missed his beautiful city," you could just about see two towers, two mushroom clouds, two glowing spirits.
Mr. Company - a top of the line "robotic companion" - is available now at The Sharper Gadget.
A premise which in lesser hands could degenerate into just another sitcom moment became an oddly relaxing foray into happy madness thanks to Marc Castle’s witty, funny, and deftly structured play - perfectly acted, and perfectly directed by Max Montel.
Deb Armolino was the somewhat addled shopper. Her quirky, perfect delivery of "is this some kind of sex toy?" showed early-on her mastery of both subtle and broad comedy. Sarah Dacey Charles played a consummate store manager with a secret. But it was Mister Company himself who, as he was meant to, stole the show. Played by the aptly named Christopher Borg (who single-handedly redefined for all theatre professionals the words "stage laugh"). For any of us who have fought with computers and bristled at the cheerful sign-on presentation of the operating system, his oft-repeated "reboot sequence" was absolute scary brilliance.
At a time when convergence, biofeedback and miniaturization are progressing - like global warming - at a faster pace than any would have dared guess, are we so far removed from this scenario? I guess the real question is, given that we could create such a wonder, what do we really want.