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Summer Harvest 2018, The Street Corner Plays

a Short Play Festival
by Gregory Fitzgerald, Amanda Vick, Jane and Jim Jeffries, Steven Korbar, Tom Slot, Brett Hursey, Evan Baughfman, John Patrick Bray

COMPANY : Onion Man Productions [WEBSITE]
ID# 5285

SHOWING : June 08, 2018 - June 24, 2018



This collection of 10-minute plays finds all its stories set at the intersection of Magnolia and Pine -- an intersection where all things are possible. Enjoy "Love Struck" by Gregory Fitzgerald, "Blue Lantern" by John Patrick Bray, "Gravity" by Amanda Vick, "Riding Lessons" by Brett Hursey, "At A Crossroad" by Jane & Jim Jeffries, "Old Aquatics" by Steven Korbar, "Magnolia & Pine" by Tom Slot and "Lollipop Lady" by Evan Baughfman when Summer Harvest 2018: The Street Corner Plays takes to the stage of Chamblee’s Onion Man Productions.

"Old Aquatics" Tanya G Caldwell
"Riding Lessons" Sadye Elizabeth
"Love Struck" Greg Fitzgerald
"At a Crossroad," "Magnolia and Pine" Jim Nelson
"Lollipop Lady" Melissa Simmons
"Gravity" William Thurmond
"Riding Lessons" Charles Bohanan
"Magnolia and Pine" Allan Dodson
"Love Struck" Samuel Gresham
"Gravity" Jerry Jobe
"Blue Lantern" Brock Kercher
"Old Aquatics" Brandi Kilgore
"Lollipop Lady" Jeffrey Liu
"Riding Lessons" Courtney Loner
"Magnolia and Pine" Emily McClain
"Magnolia and Pine" Joseph McLaughlin
"Old Aquatics" Paul Milliken
"At a Crossroad" Amanda Christine Peclat-Begin
"Gravity" Cat Roche
"Riding Lessons" Bob Smith
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by playgoer
Monday, June 11, 2018
For several years now, Onion Man Productions has presented an evening of ten-minute plays entitled "Summer Harvest." This year’s rendition, "The Street Corner Plays," takes place at the corner of Magnolia and Pine, as evidenced by the street sign at stage right. The center of the set, designed by Greg Fitzgerald and James Beck, consists of a narrow brick building with a door and the number "131" above it. 131 is the number of original plays Onion Man has produced over the years.

This year, eight plays have been selected by Gregory Fitzgerald and Brandi Kilgore for production. They run the gamut from comedy to drama and from light-hearted fantasy to heartfelt emotion.

The first play, Gregory Fitzgerald’s "Love Struck," is split into four parts performed throughout the evening. It shows a woman hit by her fiancé’s car on the night he is scheduled to meet her parents. The first two segments are short and end with nice cliff-hanger moments, while the second-act segments fall more into the category of a relationship discussion. Vera Varlamov gives a splendid performance, and Samuel Gresham’s expressive face gets plenty of opportunity to react to the changing situations. I only wish the show didn’t set the tone of the evening with repeated profanities, echoed in many of the succeeding plays.

Amanda Vick’s "Gravity" shows us people gazing across the street at a woman standing on top of a building, ready to jump. We have her sister (Cat Roche), her husband (Matthew Easter), and a policeman (Jerry Jobe). Considering that marriages and/or affairs link all these people, there’s plenty of comic drama to go around. William Thurmond has directed the action to keep things easily visible and to keep the pace going. Good performances all around help this play maintain interest throughout.

The third play explores somewhat unusual territory for Onion Man, as a young woman (the reserved Autumn Norris) awaits a bus to take her to become a nun, while her friend (the vivid Amanda Peclat-Begin) attempts to ferret out her sexual history and discourage her decision. The religiously affirmative nature of the script by Jane & Jim Jeffries makes the overly long "At a Crossroad" a rather quiet, sincere play, unrelieved by the static blocking by director Jim Nelson and the somewhat uneven performance levels of the actresses.

The first act ends with the most thoroughly comic play of the evening, Steven Korbar’s "Old Aquatics" (a drunken mispronunciation of the first words of "Auld Lang Syne"). Tanya Caldwell has directed Brandi Kilgore in a tour-de-force New Year’s Eve drunken rant, and gets a wonderful performance from Paul Milliken as the driver who has come to pick her up and take her home. There’s heart along with the comedy, so "Old Aquatics" ends the first end on a high note.

The second act starts with the unimaginatively titled "Magnolia & Pine" by Tom Slot. This is the most successful play of the evening. The plot is intriguing, as John Lennon (Emily McClain), JFK (David Allan Dodson), and Abraham Lincoln (Joseph McLaughlin) intervene in the life of a woman (Melanie Kiran) who is about to make a scientific breakthrough that will transform the planet. The acting is uniformly top-notch in this play, and Jim Nelson’s blocking makes terrific use of the small stage.

Brett Hursey’s "Riding Lessons" is also a very successful play. A man (the dependable Bob Smith) who is carrying a clown (the sweetly expressive Charles Bohanan) encounters a woman (the delightful Courtney Loner) who also sees the supposedly imaginary clown. Is this a match made in some mythic-inflected heaven? Sadye Elizabeth directs the show to get the most out of her cast, and costumes and props are excellent.

"Lollipop Lady" comes next, introducing us to two crossing guards (Jeffrey Liu and Sofia Palermo) who discuss a recent traffic accident (or was it an accident?). Melissa Simmons hasn’t done a great job of giving Evan Baughfman’s script its due, with uninventive blocking and uneven performances. The play requires a bravura performance by Mr. Liu, which he can’t quite pull off. This dark script throws a pall over the evening, echoed by the somewhat melancholy ending of "Love Struck" that follows.

The evening ends with John Patrick Bray’s "Blue Lantern," which can’t shake the somber mood that has taken over the production. The slow pace of Amber Brown’s direction detracts from the fine performance by Corynne Wagener, and the play isn’t helped by the sub-par diction of Brock Kercher. The storyline, of two former lovers meeting to exchange possessions, should have what is probably intended to be a positive ending, but comes across as bittersweet at best.

Mr. Fitzgerald’s sound design ably provides the necessary sound effects, and also covers scene changes, which never amount to more than re-positioning of a bench and positioning of actors. James Beck’s lighting design does a good job of individualizing the settings for each play, although there is a slightly dim spot near the stage left wall in some plays that have actors moving through that area. Costumes are well above par, particularly for the policeman and the clown. Technically, the show is more consistent than in its selection of plays. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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