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Heart Throbs 2, Tales from the Heart

a 10-Minute Plays
by King, Fisher, and Kimmel

COMPANY : Lionheart Theatre Company [WEBSITE]
VENUE : Out of Box Theatre at Artisan Resource Center [WEBSITE]
ID# 4536

SHOWING : February 07, 2014 - February 16, 2014



Enjoy these short plays about the wonders and tumults of romantic love!

Cast Judith Beasley
Cast David Fisher
Director Judith Beasley
Director Tanya G Caldwell
Director Carolyn Choe
Director Robert Drake
Director Jessica Fern Hunt
Director Joanie McElroy
Director Tom Thon
Master Carpenter Jim Walsh
Director Barry N. West
Light Designer Robert Drake
Sound Designer Robert Drake
Stage Manager Jim Walsh
Cast Aretta Baumgartner
Cast Judith Beasley
Cast Matthew Busch
Cast Adrian "Dre" Camacho
Cast Joel Coady
Cast Dyana Nikole Edwards
Cast Rial Ellsworth
Cast Colleen Gaenssley
Cast Ian Gaenssley
Cast Truman Griffin
Cast Elin Hill
Cast Candace Mabry
Cast Joseph McLaughlin
Cast Lake Roberts
Cast Patrick S. Young
Click to Submit Cast & Crew Info for this production


Throbbing Hearts and Other Body Parts
by playgoer
Sunday, February 16, 2014
"Heart Throbs II: Tales from the Heart" collects together nine short plays loosely connected by a theme of heartfelt interactions. Five make up the first act; four make up the second. They’re of a variety of tones and quality, both in terms of writing and of production, but overall they’re very good. They make for a fulfilling evening of entertainment.

First up is "Charming" by Mark Harvey Levine. A man and woman are on their third date, and you know what is supposed to happen on the third date... Only what she expects beforehand is that they discuss their previous relationships. He confesses to something that surprises her (spoiler alert: that he used to be gay), and comedy ensues. The script is full of good lines and has a sharp ending, and it’s staged nicely by director Judith Beasley. Actors Jayne Jeter and Adam Bailey don’t seem to inhabit the roles with natural comfort, but the playlet amuses mightily from start to finish. It’s a sharp, bright beginning for the evening.

Next up is "Getting Lucky," by Chris Shaw Swanson, in which a married couple’s Valentine’s Day date night is thrown off kilter by the need to feed a pet hamster (spoiler alert: the hamster is dead). Director Hilary King has thrown in a lot of physical comedy that actor Patrick S. Young handles with aplomb. Kirstin Calvert is pure perfection as his wife, natural and funny and sweet. Her acting of the last moment of the play brings it to a satisfying conclusion. This is fine directorial work and continues the promise of the evening.

"Pole Boy," the third play in sequence, was the highlight for me. David L. Fisher’s writing flows, as always, with a natural progression that introduces new facts in a steady stream and maintains constant interest. Director Betty Mitchell has staged it simply but well, allowing the performances to carry the load. Aretta Baumgartner plays a white trash floozy with a checkered past; William Joel Coady plays a dim-witted 17-year-old utility company subcontractor guarding a pile of (unseen) telephone poles while the rest of his work crew is at lunch. She offers him succor in the form of iced tea and a massage (and, spoiler alert, the promise of much more). The acting is first-rate, and the production is beautifully paced. It hits on all cylinders.

What follows is "The Waiting Room" by David MacGregor. It starts with lots of comic touches, as a father waits nervously with his son in a room before the father’s wedding to a second wife. The material gets more serious and heartfelt as it goes along, leading to a comic tag line invested with all the emotion of what has gone on before. Director Tom Thon has shaped it masterfully, and the performances of Rial Ellsworth and Dre Camacho ring true. Of Mr. Ellsworth’s portrayal, a man near me in the audience said "I think that’s the best acting I’ve ever seen in community theatre."

The first act ends with "Claudie’s Brother," a rather opaque work by Barbara Lindsay and directed by Carolyn Choe. Claudie (Elin Hill) is apparently a somewhat mentally challenged teenager whose older brother (Matthew Busch) is running away from home. The brother has gotten Claudie to steal their father’s gun and some food, and he has an unexplained bloody wound. We’re given ominous hints that the father has been abusive, but nothing is clarified. The first act leaves one with an unsettled impression.

With the best having shown up in the first act, the second act is a bit of a disappointment. "Travelling Hearts," the first playlet, is a sweet tale by Hilary King in three scenes, in which we see a widow and widower on an eight-nation/seven-day European tour. The romance that develops is sweet and somewhat touching, but on the formulaic side. Director Joanie McElroy has done a fine job of staging bus and train scenes, and actors Judith Beasley and Joseph McLaughlin make their characters come alive. There’s just too much emotional distance traveled in too little time to make the piece ring fully true.

"Streetcar Serenade" by Henry W. Kimmel, which follows, rings less true. Niki Edwards and Truman Griffin play students in an acting class, rehearsing a short moment of a scene from "A Streetcar Named Desire" (although I wouldn’t call it an iconic and immediately recognizable scene). The concept is repetitive, and the payoff is somewhat contrived and abrupt. Director Robert Drake hasn’t staged it with much variety.

"The Narcoleptic Pillow Fight" is a jokey play by Alex Dremann that shows a husband and wife, both suffering from narcolepsy (which is brought on by strong emotions), attempting to battle through a fight in bed. The joke is that one or the other (or both) suddenly fall asleep at crucial moments in the argument and its aftermath. Jessica Fern Hunt has directed it with a fair amount of variety, but props on a bedside table did not fare well in the performance I saw, due to the amount of physical activity. Candace Mabry and Lake Roberts both do excellent work in their roles, but the whole concept is rather contrived. The play has a series of false endings (falling asleep in a pillow fight, falling asleep in a kiss, and a previously mentioned soup ladle making an appearance), making the actual ending confusingly open-ended and a bit of a let-down.

Last up is Isabella Russell-Ides’ "The Red Dress." This play has moments of sharp, richly observed, thought-provoking writing. Barry N. West has directed it with the comedy of two people in bed covering up in two ends of the same bed sheet, but the action is rather static until the ending is approaching. Colleen Gaenssley and Ian Gaenssley play the supposedly naked couple and do pretty good work, although each of their characters is generally of a one-note mindset. The action perks up at the end, when they learn each other’s names and realize something they hadn’t considered in their Valentine’s Day party hookup. It’s cute, and comes to a generally satisfying conclusion. It’s not a bang-up ending to the evening, though.

Scenic elements at the Lionheart Theatre are not impressive. Seven mottled flats are set up to obscure a mural painted on the walls. A sofa shows up in various positions for the first three plays, a bed for the last two, and chairs and a few props here and there for others. Lighting and sound are fine. It’s not the physical environment that is the draw, however, and it shouldn’t be for a show that has played in three separate venues. The draw is the plays themselves, and their variety in writing, directing, and acting provides an engaging couple of hours of entertainment. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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