THE FRINGE OF MARIN ROCKS THE SHORT AND HAPPY LIFE THE HOMECOMING Reviewed MISS JULIE: DEPRAVITY OR LICENSE WAR SONG REVIEWED
The FRINGE OF MARIN is into what is sure to be its 23rd successful season of bringing the whimsical and witty works of amateur playwrights, actresses, actors and directors onto the minimalist stage of Meadowlands Assembly Hall at Dominican University.
DR Annette Lust, always at the vortex of the action, is the axle about which this festival of one act plays turns with kaleidoscopic action.
Program one opens with an irreverent Thanksgiving Comedy: STUFF IT.
Billie Cox directs this satirical piece that focuses on a nosing diving, high-brow family that has more dollars than sense, and much more pretense than class.
The dowager Mother, an archetype of the widow who rode a successful husband into an early grave, is played marvelously by Stephanie Miller.
The Mother has a tradition of attending a country club, for a "dress in white" Thanksgiving Dinner that is long on the meat dishes and short on the vegetables: a good ratio given the carnivorous nature of the membership.
The Daughter, played by Pennell Chapin, is a vicious vixen, easily baited by her brother: the Son, hilariously played by Richard Howell.
While denial runs as deep the Nile and familial contempt is as thick as the red meat gravy, honesty is rarely evidenced.
The Mother smugly rests on her dubious snobbish laurels of having had descendents on the Mayflower, perhaps never having heard of the Mayflower Madame.
The predatory Daughter, leaves the dining room for the kitchen and some spice with the saucy Waitress played wickedly well by Sara Eve Breindel.
If you ever felt that your Thanksgiving was long on tradition and short on heartfelt meaning, this play might resonant with you.
Billy Cox writes and directs his own show: EXIT, PURSUED BY A PIRATE.
With a convincing swashbuckling briny delivery, Dale Camden gives Johnny Depp a run for his doubloons as he plays the salty Captain James A. Hook.
The reprobate Captain rewrites history telling his side of the Peter Pan story and goes on to reveal that the Virgin Queen: Elizabeth had secretly given birth to an illegitimate son: William.
Captain Hook claims to have home tutored this William only to have William plagiarize every bit of Hook's lies and lore and turn it into the Complete Works of William Shakespeare.
The story is a bit of a stretch but the delivery is excellent: Dale Camden soundly struts and frets his twenty minutes upon the stage; and it must be remembered that this is the Fringe Festival after all.
TRIPPING WITH MILLER is a wonderful longitudinal piece, starting off with two eight-year-old girls and ending up with two eight-one-year-old friends for life.
Norma Anapol put some thought and feelings into this "Serious Comedy" that, with just a few brush strokes, accurately depicts the various stages of life and the evolving priorities of two women.
Annie, played very competently by Lynae Ades and Jessica, played with polished nuance by Sara Eve Breindel, seem to vie for the same men.
Jessica is smart enough to detect a player like Danny, while Annie is romantic and needy enough to marry a player like Danny.
In less than twenty minutes, director Carol Marshall, has revealed an inconvenient truth about life: that without mistakes and foolish leaps of faith, like marrying the philandering Danny, human beings would probably have gone extinct: it's not cool reason that keeps OB/GYN clinics running twenty-four and seven.
Annie Barry seems to have merged Sondheim with Shakespeare, introduced a little realism to the tragedy of Romeo and Juliet, and titled it: SEND IN THE CLOWN.
Matt Hooker and Eliza Leoni deftly share seven characters between them and Anne Barry pitches in to provide one addition one: the clown.
Far from being the saccharine and sentimental story of innocent love gone seriously awry, this is a more cynical look, taken from the domestics' point of view.
The street brawls that were pruning branches off the family trees of Montague and Capulet were good news to the kitchen staff and maids: it meant less work.
While the truculent families were bewailing and mourning the latest casualty, the demands on the staff were reduced to a minimum.
Perhaps the highlight of the Fringe Festival was the serendipitously forged together one woman show entitled MEMOIRS OF A VIRGIN: The Dilemma of an Innocent Woman.
The old adage, if you cannot write a play, then become a critic, does not hold for Mario Echevarria who wrote this ironically clever and hilarious comedy.
Great casting has made a good script into a great play: Larissa Garcia is funny just getting onto stage: her entrance is raucous.
As Micaela, MS Garcia, tells her story of struggle, survival and love in South America.
When she meets the only decent man of her life, whom she strongly hopes is really the doctor he pretends to be, she invest several thousand dollars in reconstructive surgery to convince him that she is truly a woman of honor.
The fraudulent Doctor Debaucher wipes out her investment; and then, like all of her men, he disappears.
But alas, Micaela is not defeated, nor is the lesson lost on her: she embraces life with fresh resolve and abandon: but mostly abandon.
Brittany Hogan creates a whacky "Modern Romantic Comedy" that would have divorce lawyers rolling in the aisles.
Brittany Hogan, Kip Baldwin, John Clevenger and Anthony McGovern star in this rough hewn comedy about some very unlikely nuptials: both spent the eve of their wedding in the arms, or lions, of someone other than their betrothed.
While MS Hogan gives her audience little explanation as to while "these two should wed" director John Clevenger cleverly keeps our attention occupied with the frantic and farcical rather than the critical.
MS Hogan and MR Clevenger should be congratulated for having achieved a very Moliere feel to this fugue.
Having watched prime time sitcoms and having watched Annette's one acts, I think I prefer the one acts: it's real people delivering real creativity: from the heart to the stage in twenty minutes or less.
For tickets to refreshing entertainment, without the commercials and the mass media glitz, call Annette Lust at 415 673-3131 or surf on over to firstname.lastname@example.org.
An Excellent Credit Score is 750. See Yours in Just 2 Easy Steps!
THE SHORT AND HAPPY LIFE
Reviewed by Jeffrey R Smith of the San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle
The incongruously named Sleepwalk Theatre Company boldly staged THE SHORT AND HAPPLY LIFE by Ryan Michael Teller: not to be confused with The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber by Ernest Hemingway.
Anyone who attends to more than a dozen shows per year would greatly appreciate this invigorating breath of fresh air by Ryan Michael Teller.
MR Teller writes like he does NOT attend more than a dozen shows per year.
To his credit, MR Teller writes like maybe he attends a dozen undistributed Indie films per year, maybe a dozen raves, listens to vynal and sees absolutely no theatre aside from possibly the Marsh and Exit theaters.
Tolstoy told his children, that if they could avoid thoughts of a white bear, then they could have anything that they wished for.
Tolstoy planted the vision of the white bear; the children got no wishes.
That is the problem of seeing too many plays: the creative process is essentially one of synthesis: elements and themes of witnessed plays tend to ingratiate themselves into new works.
Many playwrights seem to pull too much off the shelves: cognitively, perhaps unconsciously or unwittingly, they are cutting and pasting.
MR Teller has a greenness, non-linearity and randomness, bordering on Camp mind you, all of which are a welcome qualities in the world of contemporary theatre.
Assuming MR Teller can write, without thinking about randomness, non-linearity and Camp—figuratively also the white bear—he stands an excellent chance of becoming a stimulating, provocative and highly entertaining playwright.
Ariane Owens, cast as Sally, has a saucy stage presence and seems to only approximate the her full-throttle potential.
MS Owens needs to pull out all of her control rods and just go for the meltdown.
If audiences were honest with themselves and directors, they would tell you that they like energy: they want a show that requires not only seatbelts, but shoulder harnesses: they want to see actors limp with exhaustion: slumping, not bowing, at the final curtain.
Director Tore Ingersoll-Thorp should carefully side-step trying to forge anything for mainstream consumption: let his genies out of their bottles and take the dogs off the leashes—including MS Owens.
Do not go for the tried and true: close the eyes and hope for a camp classic.
Susan Sontag, one of the greatest minds of the 20th century, admitted, "I am strongly drawn to Camp, and almost strongly offended by it."
She described Camp peripherally as one would Zen: " . . . the Camp sensibility is disengaged . . . true Camp has the power to transform experience . . . Camp merits the most serious admiration and study . . . Camp comes from the effortless smooth way in which tone is maintained . . . Camp rests on innocence."
Tore Ingersoll-Thorp, Ariane Owens and especially Ryan Michael Teller seem innocent enough: they have a shot at Camp; let us hope they take that shot with their blindfolds in place and cotton in their ears.
To see what the Sleepwalkers have up their pajama sleaves, surf on over to www.sleepwalkerstheatre.com.
Access 350+ FREE radio stations anytime from anywhere on the web. Get the Radio Toolbar!