SHOWING : December 20, 2016 - December 21, 2016
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Building on the success of The One-Minute Play Festival in Atlanta, this holiday-themed event offers a cohort of local and national artists.
CLUMP 1: PARTY, directed by Elin Rose Hill
"Final Preparations" by Johnny Drago
"Fruitcake" by Steve Yockey
"Just Can’t Do It" by Lee Nowell
"Spanx Free Christmas" by Lee Nowell
"Terrible Holiday Sweater Party" by Steve Yockey
"Widows on a Plane" by Daryl Lisa Fazio
Cast: Liz Schad, Jennifer Lee, Carolyn Choe, Lauren Richards, Kerwin Thomson and Markell Williams
CLUMP 2: SPIRIT, directed by A. Julian Verner
"The Virgin & the Whore" by Annie Harrison Elliott
"...Black Mirror 2016 Christmas Pageant" by Jacob and Galen York
"Auld Lang Syne" by Addae Moon
"Heavy Metal Drummer" by Pat Young
"Misfit Board Meeting: 2016" by Mick Schatz
"Transition" by Amina S. McIntyre
Cast: Ashley Prince, Chris Dixon, Dylan Parker Singletary, Jessie Kuipers, Lizzy Liu and Paul Gourdeau
CLUMP 3: FAMILY, directed by Hillary R. Heath
"Escape Room" by Marki Shalloe
"Ceasefire" by Topher Payne
"I Saw Mommy Kissing Daddy" by Pat Young
"CVS Christmas" by Hank Kimmel
"I’m Dreaming of a White Elephant" by Edith Freni
"Christmas Moderator" by Nicole Kemper
"In Laws" by Christina Quintana
Cast: Brian Ashton Smith, Jasmine Waters, Patrick Morgan, Laura Meyers, Sarah Alison Hodges, Andy Fleming, Nicole Kemper and Aria Marra
CLUMP 4: TRADITION, directed by Rebekah Suellau, assisted by Anna Richardson
"Seminar" by Phillip DePoy
"The Christmas Kiss" by Amy E. Witting
"Traditional" by Annie Harrison Elliott
"Apple Share" by Amy E. Witting
"Santa Was Here" by Mike Schatz
"Pink Pig" by Neeley Gossett
Cast: Stephen Banks, Hannah Church, Kelly Criss, Chelcy Cutwright, Barrett Doyle, Kevin Roost, Clint Thornton and India S. Tyree
CLUMP 5: WAR ON CHRISTMAS, directed by Leora Morris
"A Way into the Manger" by Edith Freni
"Candystriper" by Marki Shalloe
"Secret Santa" by Hank Kimmel
"Merry X-Mas" by Jacob and Galen York
"Hanukkah, 1934" by Nicole Kemper
"We Wish You a Merry -" by Sherri D. Sutton
Cast: Kristina Adler, Jared Brodie, Ryan Czeresko, Emily Kleypas, Betty Smith and Andrew Williams
CLUMP 6: GIFTS, directed by Nichole Palmietto, assisted by Amina S. McIntyre
"Braces" by Phillip DePoy
"A December to Remember" by Michael Henry Harris
"Re-Gift of the Magi" by Topher Payne
"Naughty Holidays" by Amina s. McIntyre
"Misfit Toys" by Suehyla El-Attar
"Christmas Swap" by Sherri D. Sutton
"Bus Stop" by Christina Quintana
Cast: Judith Beasley, Luis R. Hernandez, Regina McCray, Mary Russell, Mia Kristin Smith and Sarah Elizabeth Wallis
CLUMP 7: GHOSTS, directed by Pam Joyce, assisted by Damian Lockhart
"All I Ever Wanted" by Johnny Drago
"Real Milk for Cocoa" by Michael Henry Harris
"Admission" by Neeley Gossett
"All Is Bright" by Addae Moon
"Jingle Dog" by Daryl Lisa Fazio
"Just Like the Ones We Use to Know" by Suehyla El-Attar
Cast: Kara Cantrell, Eric Graise, Stuart McDaniel, Terrence Smith, Holly Stevenson and Rachel Wansker
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2 x 22 4 ADHD|
Wednesday, December 21, 2016 ||
With festivals of one-minute plays, the title’s the thing when a program lists just title and playwright, not giving a full cast list. So many plays pass by in such a short amount of time that only a descriptive title will allow matching it in hindsight to memorable content. The festival at Actor’s Express sometimes associates memorable plays with generic or non-evocative titles. In many cases, I know I particularly liked a play within one of the seven "clumps" of plays associated with a single director and cast, but I can’t pick out the title from two or three choices.|
That said, there is much that resonates in "A Very Merry (All-Inclusive) 1MPF Holiday Spectacular" and much that flies by with little impact. The main impression is that directors make a huge difference in the success of the various clumps. The acting abilities of the various casts seem to be roughly equivalent, but not all clumps are equally effective or enjoyable.
Clump 1, directed by Elin Rose Hill, concentrates on parties, generally with a light, comic tone. "Final Preparations," by Johnny Drago, has people commenting on holiday gifts, starting with typical ones and soon deviating into alarming territory. It’s a great start to the show, although it’s pretty similar to a couple of Sherri D. Sutton gift-swapping plays that show up later. Steve Yockey’s two plays, "Fruitcake" and "Terrible Holiday Sweater Party" have beautifully clear titles that immediately bring back memories of their funny, quirky content. Lee Nowell’s two plays aren’t as sharp or memorable; nor is Daryl Fazio’s within this clump. (All 22 playwrights contributed two plays each, but they often appear in different clumps.) Ms. Hill’s direction throughout points up the comedy and keeps things moving and lively.
is entitled "Spirit" and contains a grab bag of plays directed none too successfully by A. Julian Verner. A couple have religious inspirations for comic content (Annie Harrison Elliott’s "The Virgin & the Whore," about Mother Mary, Mary Magdalene, and Jesus in heaven and Pat Young’s "Heavy Metal Drummer," about the origin of the Little Drummer Boy). There are a couple commenting on the current condition (Galen and Jacob York’s depressing "...Black Mirror 2016 Christmas Pageant," showing how handheld phone usage alienates us one from another, and Mike Schatz’s "Misfit Board Meeting: 2016," about exploding devices recently in the news). The other two leave less of an impression.
The third clump concentrates on family. To me, the most memorable of these plays, all directed by Hillary R. Heath, are Pat Young’s "I Saw Mommy Kissing Daddy," about a married couple having to explain to their child the costumes in their bedroom closet; Hank Kimmel’s "CVS Christmas," about a divorced couple handoff; and Nicole Kemper’s clever "Christmas Moderator," in which a hired moderator translates the comments of a Republican older generation into terms more amenable to the Democratic sensibilities of a younger generation.
Clump 4 concentrates on family traditions, and it’s all pretty anodyne under Rebekah Suellau’s direction, assisted by Anna Richardson. The highlight is the last piece, Neeley Gossett’s beautifully acted Atlanta-specific "Pink Pig."
Clump 5 moves the focus to Jewish celebrations. Leora Morris’ direction doesn’t generally make the plays sparkle. The most effective is Nicole Kemper’s "Hanukkah, 1934," which recites Jewish reactions to the installation to power of the unnamed Hitler, allowing the audience to draw its own parallels to America’s recent election.
The most sentimental clump of the bunch is clump 6, about gifts. The direction of Nichole Palmietto, assisted by Amina S. McIntyre, oozes truthful sincerity throughout, even in Topher Payne’s "Re-Gift of the Magi," which takes a comic look at the aftermath of O. Henry’s story. Ms. Palmietto’s gets the most out of her talented cast.
The final clump is entitled "Ghosts," but it is in effect a grab bag of what didn’t fit into the other clumps. Pam Joyce’s direction, as assisted by Damian Lockhart, shines most brightly in Rachel Wansker’s performance in the title role of Daryl Lisa Fazio’s "Jingle Dog."
The show is enhanced by its decor, consisting of a short wall of wrapped boxes upstage, oversize ornaments hanging from the ceiling on each side of the stage, wreaths on the back wall, and strings of lights along the front and back. Daniel Burns sits with his guitar and with Paige Mattox at stage right, playing and singing pre-show music and between-clump songs in a semi-rehearsed fashion.
One-minute plays are akin either to Laugh-In-style skits leading to a punchline or to mood pieces. Rapid transitions quickly lead to surfeit. This is the type of show to go to to support friends in the massive cast or playwriting crew, but not the show to go to to get yourself in the holiday spirit. Although I can’t say what your reaction might be if you arrived with spirits already in you... [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]
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