SHOWING : May 08, 2014 - May 11, 2014
[REVIEW THIS PRODUCTION]
[REVIEW THIS PRODUCTION]
Spring Forward, Fall Back|
Sunday, May 11, 2014 ||
Onstage Atlanta is hosting "Spring Shorts," a collection of eight short plays, as a special one-weekend event. All the plays take place with the set of "Lakebottom Prime" in the background. That’s no big deal; the outdoor door in the set functions as an indoor door in many of the plays, and most action takes place downstage center, with chairs and tables brought in as needed. There’s no overriding theme, although a few of the plays take place in a future that might not be as one would expect.|
First up is Annie H. Elliott’s "Cutting." This is a nicely-paced, well-acted story, directed by William Thurmond, about a brother bringing his eccentric fiancée to meet his sister and her husband on their Valentine’s Day anniversary. Markell Williams and Emi Mastey have nice chemistry as the married couple, and Colleen Gaenssley takes control of the stage (in the best possible way) as the fiancée. The plot elements are nicely set up, although the obliviousness of the brother (Ian Gaenssley) to his fiancée’s extreme opinions is not quite believable. The playwright has at least acknowledged this in a line. The play moves along briskly, never overstaying its welcome.
The same can’t be said of David L. Fisher’s "Sanction Permit," which appears in second position. This is given a somewhat diffuse, stumbling production by director Pete Borden, with Lory Cox and Barry N. West seemingly riffing at some points. The plot has to do with a future world in which permits for murder are awarded by lottery. The plot elements are nicely positioned in the flow, letting the full impact of the "Sanction Permit" concept slowly take shape in the audience’s mind. It seems overlong and under-rehearsed, although Ms. Cox and Mr. West are both engaging performers.
Third is "Barbie’s Dream House," using a script by Marki Shalloe, as directed by Kristin Kalbli. While this is a time-tested script, it plays more as a sketch than as a play. Fashion doll Barbie (Donna Stewart) is visited by two women (Colleen Gaenssley and Emi Mastey again) who alternately dismiss and emulate Barbie. There are good lines spoken and interesting points made, but the whole thing comes across as pretty flat. Ms. Stewart has the non-flat look of a human-sized Barbie, but she doesn’t bring any doll-like qualities to her performance, robbing it of its silly fun.
To end the first act, we have "Talley O’Malley, the Unlucky Leprechaun." Kate Guyton’s script has a schematic quality to it, with Talley surrounded by bad luck symbols at the start and receiving good luck charms at the end. Peg Thon’s makeup and costume are terrific as Talley, as is her posture and Irish accent. Tori Montgomery also brings believably leprechaun-like qualities to her role as Talley’s wife. The weak spot is Josh Vining, who plays a human. Director Daniel Guyton lets him do the role with a New Jersey accent, and his pauses before speaking his lines rob the cute show of its momentum.
The second act starts with my favorite by far of the plays. "A Day at the Park with Treehouse" envisions a future in which people are rewarded with the holiday of their choice after winning a lottery. Curt Shannon’s script nicely sets up this scenario with a winning love scene between Markell Williams, as the lottery winner, and Katie Graham, as a love interest who reacts to him with support so total it begins to flummox him. Erin Greer, as the holiday coordinator, enters after this opening scene and starts explaining the scenario of this future in which utopian holidays help to make up for sorry everyday existences. These three actors all do thrillingly spot-on work, and they are ably supported by Curt Shannon and Tori Montgomery in smaller roles. Director Matthew C. Jones has put together a totally satisfying production of an intriguing script.
Next is Nick Boretz’s "The Man Who Tried Different Positions," which also envisions a somewhat dystopian future. Waldo (Dre Camacho) has commissioned a robot that emulates a 1950’s housewife, but he has her room with a sexy roommate, Alicia (Alexandria Blevins), instead of having her live with him as his wife. When the robot runs off to join a convent, Waldo and Alicia are thrown together in ways both dramatic and sexual. It’s an uncomfortably off-kilter piece that is directed by Tom Thon to remove most of the comic possibilities of the script.
Next-to-last is Daniel Guyton’s "Fat Dick," which, as its title suggests, involves an obese private detective. His nutritionist has been killed, and the nutritionist’s widow (the fabulous Katie Graham) is under suspicion of murder. The action takes place as a stereotypical film noir meeting in the detective’s seedy office. There are clever lines, many recycled "fat" jokes, a nice flow, and an appropriate ending twist. Peg Thon is terrific as the offstage voice of a secretary, but Josh Vining doesn’t quite capture the film noir feel of the detective, although he has a New Jersey accent that is appropriate for this play. Paul Donnelly has directed the proceedings with nice blocking and a nice flow, but it doesn’t quite come off.
Last is Hank Kimmel’s brief "An Answer to Their Prayers." This is splendidly acted by Ian Gaenssley and the charismatic Niki Edwards as a pair of strangers making a tentative connection at a synagogue service. Director Nat Martin has gotten nice performances out of the actors, and has rehearsed it to have a real spark and drive. The play is little more than a "meet cute" introduction of two characters, but it works.
The overall impression of "Spring Shorts" is of a grab bag of entertainments. The scripts, performances, and direction are all competent, with certain elements being stronger than others in most of the short plays. In the case most markedly of "A Day at the Park with Treehouse," all elements are strong, leaving the impression of having seen a play whose impact will last in the memory. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]
| || Unnecessary by Steve Rhinehart|
| If I were going to look for a competent review, ths is the last place I would look. There have been no other reviewers on this site for at last 6-8 months, and this one does not have the integrity to put his name on his work. I am reminded of something my good friend and mentor who was a part of community theater for 65 years, once said about critics and play reviewers. "A drama critics is as essential and useful to community theater as a tick with an ego is to a dog."|
| || No ad-hominem attacks, please by playgoer|
| When a commenter compares reviewers to ticks on a dog, which are removed by squeezing them to death, it is perhaps best that a certain anonymity of reviewers is maintained.|
[REVIEW THIS PRODUCTION]
by Elton John (music), Tim Rice (lyrics), and Linda Woolverton, Robert Falls, David Henry Hwang (book)
Atlanta Lyric Theatre