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The Kindness of Strangers

a Drama
CATEGORY : COMEDY DRAMA
by Nick Boretz, Brian Bannon, Greg Carraway, David L. Fisher, Daryl Lisa Fazio

COMPANY : Lionheart Theatre Company [WEBSITE]
VENUE : Norcross Community and Cultural Arts Center
ID# 4207

SHOWING : January 06, 2012 - January 08, 2012

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PRODUCTION DESCRIPTION

7 NEW SHORT PLAYS
5 ATLANTA WRITERS
HONORING TENNESSEE WILLIAMS' 100th BIRTHDAY


CAST & CREW LIST
Producer David Fisher
dir. "Cocktails af the French Embassy" Judith Beasley
dir. "Incident on Nightmare Road" Nick Boretz
dir. "Hello from Melanie" Tanya G Caldwell
dir. "The Number 27" Diane Hallen
dir. "Objects Are Alive" William Hatten
dir. "Cerulean Door" Betty Mitchell
dir. "The Night of the Mockingbird" Lawrence Ruth
Click to Submit Cast & Crew Info for this production
REVIEWS

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The Kindness of Strange Familiarity
by playgoer
Monday, January 9, 2012
4.5
"The Kindness of Strangers" presents seven short plays inspired by and/or paying tribute to Tennessee Williams' 100th birthday. Producer David Fisher has brought together a varied selection of playlets that capture aspects of William's career and work. The focus, of course, is on the well-known early works that are familiar to most theatregoers. The evening touches on more than that, though.

The first two plays set the bar high. Nick Boretz's "Hello from Melanie" brings together Melanie (Jackie Estafen) and Dr. John (James Beck) in a Louisiana flophouse. Think of the period in Blanche Dubois's life when she kept company with gentlemen before arriving at her sister Stella's place in "A Streetcar Named Desire," tied together with a slightly melodramatic plot concerning a dead sister and a willfully incompetent doctor. It strongly suggests Tennessee Williams and plays extremely well as a drama. The next play, Brian Bannon's "The Number 27" takes a completely different tack, imagining Brick (Allen Stone) and Maggie-like Bella (Bridget Shepard) in an existence after "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof," stuck in a cheap Atlanta motel and bickering until Bella's gentleman caller arrives to drive her away. The "gentleman caller" (James Connor) is a taxi driver she's called for. The whole thing is played for comedy, and it succeeds in bringing lots of laughs.

"The Night of the Mockingbird" by Greg Carraway is next in sequence, and it imagines Tennessee Williams (George Deavours) in bed with a recent conquest (J Marcello Banderas), awakened too early after a night of partying by an incessant mockingbird. The conceit of the play is that attendees of the party are phoned to weigh in on Tennessee's desire to shoot the mockingbird. Lots of names are dropped, in pretty obvious ways. It's cute, but slight. It acts more as a breather than as a letdown after the first two plays.

"Cerulean Door" by David L. Fisher ends the first act. It was my favorite show of the evening, although its Tennessee Williams inspiration is not overly apparent. Marie (Judith Beasley), a middle-aged woman in a low-rent apartment, wakes to find that the blue front door of her apartment has been stolen. This seemingly absurdist situation is explained satisfyingly by neighbor Margarite (the delightful Gina Lynn Guesby), who then joins in a ruse to scare away prospective new tenant Caroline (Amy Cain). The writing, direction, and acting all catch fire in this play. It's a joy to experience.

The second act starts with another play by David L. Fisher, "Cocktails at the French Embassy." This too is a satisfying play, bringing together a poetic barfly, Miss Precious (Daryl Lisa Fazio), with a visiting Texan, Tom (Alan Phelps), in a bar run by Julian (Richard Blair). The flavor is decidedly Tennessee Williams, with poetry and passion mingling in equal measures. There's a slightly sweet ending (not particularly redolent of Williams' best-known plays), but the play works as a play. The integrity of the writing is not skewed to try to be true to Tennessee Williams; it's true to David L. Fisher, who is a fine writer in his own right.

"Objects Are Alive," by Daryl Lisa Fazio, is the least successful of the plays. It has a very intriguing idea at its core, but it's not brought to a satisfying conclusion. It simply stops after a visitor (played by Tony Larkin) shows renewed interest in items collected by a woman (Susan Moss) and her son (Josh Nunn). The play starts with a long monologue by the woman that exhibits a number of character tics. It's conceptually interesting and conceivably an acting tour-de-force, but it doesn't quite jell. It does bring a different perspective to Tennessee Williams the person, and is appropriate to the evening in that respect.

The final play, Nick Boretz's "Incident on Nightmare Road" takes William's "Camino Real" as its inspiration. This was not a popular play by Williams, but it was certainly well-discussed for its strangeness at the time of its initial production. Mr. Boretz adds to the strangeness by turning the action into a dream, mingling together Kilroy or "Doubt" (Alan Phelps), slutty angel Esmerelde (Bridget Shephard), Esmerelde's fortune teller mother (Judith Beasley), Don Quixote (Allen Stone), victimized Gautier (Daryl Lisa Fazio), and linchpin Gutman (James Connor) in the mind of Tennessee Williams (George Devours). It's strange, and weirdly entertaining. The evening would have been incomplete without some sort of nod to Williams' less-successful late works.

The evening ends with the full cast coming on stage and spouting various quotations from Tennessee Williams' works. This ties up the evening neatly, with humor and depth evidencing the breadth of Williams' work.

The set design is simple, with set pieces moved in and out and rearranged for each play. The able actors do the set changes quickly and with little fuss. This is truly an ensemble production, and praise needs to be spread out equally among actors, directors, and writers. A special "thank you" needs to go to David Fisher for producing "The Kindness of Strangers." It's a nicely varied selection of plays that truly does pay tribute to Tennessee Williams. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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