note: entire contents copyright 2003 by Larry Stark
Seeing all the plays was a snap, compared to getting this written! Obviously it tok ME more than ten minutes per play to get all this "on paper"!
The only general comment I have is this: there seem to be fewer Surprises every year. I mean, there were no Musicals this year; no "experiments" that worked; little Fresh Ground broken; no galloping horrors, but no astonishments, either. My own favorites were by William Donnelly, Shawn Sturnick, Gail Phaneuf, Miranda Hope, and The Rough & Tumble Theatre --- though the level of work from actors, directors, and producing companies was strong and solid --- and again this year I got to see several people (like Bill Mootos, Kippy Goldfarb) whose work I've missed on local stages for the past year. What a perfect way to spend a Sunday afternoon!
Here's what I saw:
This was the hands-down winner on the audience applause-meter: two guys on folding-chairs, driving in Boston. This was really three bits from the Rough & Tumble Theatre Company's "Bits And Pieces" show, but after the first one --- in which Chris Cook and George Saulnier III (on folding-chairs) sat trying to explain to one another how to get back on the turnpike after they missed their exit --- the audience gave practically a standing-o to what, brief though it was, satisfied them fully. The second bit had the pair trying to remember the exact route they needed to take; the third was a stationary argument while waiting for triple-A because the new driver ritually ignored the EMPTY light on the fuel-gauge and they were in the breakdown-lane.
Rough & Tumble does minimal-style work developed in structured improv-sessions, with Director Dan Milstein's eye deciding what to reject and how to polish what's left. The focus is so tightly upon the actor that the motion of a pair of eyeballs becomes significant enough to get a laugh all by itself.
This was one of two other car-plays, with Meg Quin narrating a series of quick scenes defining a couple's life as a series of car-trips, from dating through marriage, kids, retirement, funerals, and in the last Quin stepping into dad's driver's seat driving her widowed mother away from a last funeral. Industrial Theatre's William Donnelly wrote it, Christopher Scully their Artistic Director directed, and Kevin LaVelle (one of their founding actors) and their Other dynamite director Heather McNamara played the couple. So everything that makes this company so charmingly delightful was capsulized in these ten minutes.
This was that other car-play, but since the two characters fight over the keys while parked, they used a steering-column prop. Ted Cormey's play concerned the disfunctional daughter of an over-protective police-chief (Nadia Schuessler) picking up a random stranger at a freezing bus-stop, cell-phoning friends and ex-boyfriends, chugging the last of a quart of beer, and getting sage advice from the stranger. Robert Seaver dircted for the Provincetown Theatre Company.
I never knew Anne Gottlieb did comedy, but she certainly did in Kathleen Rogers' witty skit about Genetic Engineering combining genes from dogs and men to create Kent French, the faithful, affectionate, obedient, trainable prototype for Mara Sidmore's owner/girlfriend. The bit was neatly constructed, thoroughly explored, and directed by Danny Gidron.
Anne lent her talents to this piece, as did Robert Pemberton in a thankless three-line walk-on. Kirsten Greenidge's script opened with two women sunning on a beech, with one --- a young Black woman (Ramona Alexander) in dark glasses and bikini --- narrating in elaborately intimate and verbose length the flow of emotional states of the other (White) woman, including her reactions to the pestering of a Black child (Ianna Potts) demanding to be taken for ice-cream in the woman's car. To my mind the show-and-tell form was much more short-story than theater, and perhaps I missed a crucial line but I waited in vain for anything to make what I heard and what I saw come together with any significant point. Shilarna Stokes directed for the Boston Theatre Works, but the performances rather than the play were the only thing holding my attention.
That show-and-narrate form was even more exaggerated in this monologue-with-still-figures by Laura Harrington. Steve Elliott on what sounded like a baritone sax played some great riffs, and he and Kim Mancuso (who directed) struck two stationary poses, while off in her spotlight stage-right Susan Thompson told a story of her mother enduring unadmitted beatings from her father, running after him in the street till she lay panting like a dog --- and apparently destroying any attraction sex might provide with these dysfunctioning fingerprints. The Pilgrim Theatre does interesting work, but I had only seen them in ideas of their own choosing.
As a sort of variation on that formula, though, Shawn Sturnick's brief play had Steven Gagliastro reading, from a huge and dusty book, the rhyme Solomon Grundy, with Cory Scott enacting birth, baptism, and then arguing at Married on Wednesday "Hey, don't I even get to experience childhood? School? Adolescence? Puberty? And who'm I suppose to marry, anyway?" Well, they decided he married the Speaker (called "Just" as in "I'm Just, the Speaker") who tried thereafter to rebel at "Sick on Thursday, Worse on Friday, Dead and Buried by Sunday." Under Victor Dupuis' tightly spare direction for Worcester Foothills Theatre, the play economically morphed from a theatrical tour de force into a moving, unforgettable AIDS tragedy --- and probably came in under its allotted ten minutes.
Two plays starred Kippy Goldfarb --- seen too seldom in this area. This one had her play a widow moved in with her son; she and his wife (Helen McElwain) had a prickly Christmas Eve conversation in Janet Kenney's play, trying uneasily to make the best of a discomforting inevitability. Despite the good performances and direction from Sue Kosoff, I thought this a scene ripped uneasily out of a longer work. The Wheelock Family Theatre sponsored.
This, Kippy's other appearance, also starred Maureen Keillor. Kippy was the unreconstructed Alabamian determined to get arrested taking the Ten Commandments back into that courthouse in defiance of a Federal court order --- even though these were carved into styrofoam instead of plastic. And Maureen was the sister --- away so long she'd lost her accent --- come back to try to talk her out of her madness. (Yes, I'm an Atheist only recently un-closeted; deal with it...) Director Marc S. Miller referee'd the confrontation for the Theatre Cooperative.
Maureen's other starring role was different as night and day. She played an almost mechanized guide for a tour of a chicken factory, brightly putting a satirically happy face on the industrial cruelties involved in manufacturing both eggs and McNuggets out of chicken-flesh. Lisa Tucker and Christopher Wagner did slapstick-mime of bewildered hens and cocks bouncing from one indignity to another --- in white body-suits with red rubber-glove combs on their heads. Maureen wore a comb as well, and saw to it that despite the laughs, Joe Byers' painful points poked through. This was a rare not-quite-comedy done by the Zeitgeist Stage Company, directed by Darren Evans.
And yet another pair starred another favorite actress of mine --- the severely under-utilized Birgit Huppuch. In this one she was one of a crew of "Maine-iacs" --- in more ways than one! --- played by the elite of Boston's acting pool. Dan Blask's play had Barlow Adamson confronting Steven Barkheimer in a hardware store with the fact that they are both Virtual Serial Killers on the internet. Adamson, however, had driven up with a chloroformed random victim in his trunk --- who turned out to be a woozy John Kuntz! --- who nailed both his captors plus himself (Literally: he used a nail-gun.) Birgit, effectively dressed by director Wesley Savick in a Maine accent, wandered in looking for a "thing you do This with, to nuts" (a ratchet) and got to ask the head-wounded clerk "Don't you have one a them things you pull nails out with?" "Claw hammer?" "That's it!" I hope none of this was intended to be taken seriously, but of course Coyote Theatre took its execution exactly that way.
Birgit walked into the middle of this play as well, playing a slightly pugnacious young runaway that Shelley Brown and Warren Steele had discussed as a possible replacement for the missing-and-presumed-kidnapped daughter of the title. Again, Dennis Porter's play felt truncated and unfinished --- as though the rest of the story had been scissored out to meettime constraints. Ted Kazanoff directed for T.K. Productions, giving each actor a believable attitude, though I think the playwright had more to say.
A lot of the plays seemed this year to fall into pairs, so let's continue with those starring Bill Mootos. This one, by John Kuntz, had Bill and Caroline Lawton as bride and groom fighting and explaining about why she was miffed at his being late to the wedding because an office-mate of his picked That Very Day to consummate the date she Thought he had once alluded to. Mia Anderson played the dieter hoping to show off her newly slimmer self to someone who had been only casually friendly. The Theater Offensive's production had a stage manager (Robbie Gray) a costumer (Troy Seigfried) and a director --- Maureen Shea, who emphasized the reality of characters rather than the wackiness of their concatenations. Frankly, I didn't know John Kuntz wrote it until this very instant.
In his second appearance, Bill went one-on-one with Adrien Krstansky in Monica Bauer's take on the Video Dating game. She was the hostess turning on the camera and asking the question of the title. Bill was the nervous recent divorce claiming his glib order for a bland blonde babe was nowhere near true. In the "let's relax" conversation that followed the pair seemed to get to Honest, talking frankly and warmly to one another about themselves till dramatic logic dictated he'd make the re-take an excuse to ask Her for a date. Nope, he ordered a bland blonde babe --- and the outraged "Ouh, No's" from the audience showed that Steve Maler's direction for Commonwealth Shakespeare landed the exact sucker-punch the playwright had in mind.
There were a pair of plays more or less about writin, and this, the most obvious, started with Joseph Zamparelli Jr. nervously visiting what first appeared an expensive companion --- Rena Baskin in the sexiest jump-suit I've seen on stage all year, and subtly named for the muse Thalia. But what she sells is the covert opportunity to --- write! Given a choice of instruments, he asked for an India ink pen and --- Vellum! (but settled on a yellow pad for starters.) Then in rushed Karen Woodward Massey as his distraught wife pleading for him not to end up like her dissolute father: a closet literary critic! But seduction can be sinister, and she found his very first poem (to her) so movingly complimentary she ended the scene in an empassioned affair with ..... a typewriter! Patrick Gabridge lasciviously wrote it, and Melissa J. Wentworth directed for the Out of The Blue Theater.
Glenn Clifton's play took place in a sheer cliff-edge, where young Miguel Cervantes brought his parents so that, in this arresting setting, he could read them his poems. The parents (Robert D. Murphy & Debra Wise) turned out to be viciusly urbane psychiatrists glibly castrating their offspring and one another. ("Oedipus Complex my foot! If I no longer want to sleep with your mother, why should you?") The series of poems reeked of suicide-allusions over the son's thwarted Needs --- a prostitute, and a car! When the kid tried to jump but hung on by fingernails asking help, his parents competed for witty words to complain of his ineffectuality --- but pulled him up and promised to buy Both his necessities as rewards of taking action at last. Pity the kid was so bewidlered by that he stumbled and fell for the black-out.
Debra Wise is another under-utilized talent here in boston, and her Underground Railway Theater was sponsor here, with Greg Smucker directing.
There were two backstage-plays. In this one, by Carl A. Rossi (That name sounds familiar somehow... ), had Colin Hamell as an inept Assistant Stage Manager breaking every backstage superstition as he attempts to call half-hour in distraught and aghast Ed Peed's dressing-room. He wished the star Good Luck ("Oh, I mean break every bone in your body, sir!" "A leg would have been sufficient..."), he not only Quoted The Scottish Play but infected Sir and Susan McConnell with the habit till they were both out in the hall whirling concentrically in shame; and --- as he left --- the idiot Whistled!!! I can't remember what taboo the brief visit by Alisha Jansky as the leading lady occasioned, but under Marie Jackson's direction for QE2 Players it must have been horrific.
This second backstage extravaganza had exquisite period costumes provided by Shakespeare & Company, because it involved two actors playing the first few lines of a new play (called "Hamlet") for a stage manager, then asking should they use Danish accents? shouldn't they have swords or spears or something? and why should the one coming ON duty challenge the one who's On Watch, shouldn't it be the other way round? and maybe we should Improvise a bit to get into the mood here? Ann Marie Shea wrote this speedy send-up and it was directed by the ever popular George Spelvin Jr. However, in the dark before it went up I scribbled down the fact that Robert Lobauer (I think!) substituted for either Kevin Coleman as Francisco, Jason Asprey as Barnardo, or Jonathan Epstein as the Stage Manager --- and they were all three so good I hadn't a clew who was really what. Corrections from the audience? Anyone? Anyone at all?
Okay, THREE Backstage Plays, not two. Nora Hussey of Wellesley Summer Theatre directed this one, another rehearsal piece by Susanna Ralli, with Charlotte Peed and Lisa Foley first doing a brief scene of one serving dinner to the other, then arguing about sub-texts, the reversing roles to illustrate their insights, then improvising all the lower-class rage that maid Must be feeling --- to the point that she strangled the mistress and stalked off! At which point Charlotte lifted her face from the mashed potatoes and, sampling them, remarked that they were the best peas she'd ever tasted, for the blackout.
This year had three monologues. Israel Hroovitz of Glaucester Stage Company wrote this one, and Nancy E. Carroll played a lady past ninety hobbling painfully around calling her cat Cabbage --- so named because he ate it, both raw and wrapping meat-balls, as a favorite dish. She displayed a comparison between cats' nine lives and her own series of brief marriages, and without calling excessive attention to it, the possibility that she'd been a bit of an alley-cat herself seeped out at the edges. With sound added by Barry Wyner and the direction of M. Lynda Robinson the wise old bat reflected that men usually ended up with dogs; women with cats. As it should be, perhaps...
Eric Engel directed Samuel Young in this brief slice of life by Patrick Vogelpohl for Boston Playwrights' Theatre. He played a Korean back in his native land after a series of computer-job experiences and ending up in glasses and a cape with a wand in his hand playing Harry Potter for oriental kids who needed his spiel translated --- but whose parents could pay hundreds of dollars to bring the odd-looking apprentice wizard to birthday parties. And the title? Well, after being sued for character-impersonation by the author's lawyers, he re-christened his alter-ego "HaLLy PottaH" and raked in the cash.
Keith Mascoll did John Oluwole Adekoje's monologue for a Company One festival of cutting-edge short works. Here, sponsored by the New African Company and directed by Vincent E. Siders, he again played a pretentious seventeen-year-old trying to seduce his first girl, even while slowly bleeding to death from a gang-war shot. Mascoll's incredibly expressive face could switch from camp to pathos as quickly as any adolescent can change his mind.
There were other plays here I'd seen before in other short-play festivals. This one by George Sauer saw Leslie Arnott and John Porell cowering in their tent under threat of attack from the very last two determined zingers that had evaded the wife's self-defenses. The lights were on in the "dark", the stage briefly blacked out when the flashlight turned on. Park Cofield, directing for Emerson Stage, emphasized the obvious humor of the show, but that all but overwhelmed the reason for the wife's hysterical fear of being bitten: her husband's snoring brother lay in the cabin in the arms of his Significant Other --- and she was afraid the mosquito might infect her with AIDS. I missed that note the first time I saw it, and nearly missed it here.
Rick Park's neat little comedy found Julie Perkins and Margaret Ann Brady playing housewives meeting at the mall in the shopping season, and trying to catch up on lives since their last encounter. It was part of a Christmas pot-pourie a year ago. The Southie accents and cliches spilled easily from their mouths, and since one of them was divorced but pregnant the other insisted on knowing "Who's the FAAtheh!?!?!" Well, the kicker was that she was artificially inseminated so she and her significant other (Dorothy Dwyer) could be a family. As directed by Darren Evans for Centastage Performance Group, both the surprise at the Other's appearance and the ultimate acceptance on grounds of long, forgiving friendship, came warmly through.
This was an Acme Winter Festival entry, here directed by Justin Waldman for the Huntington Theatre Company. Football madness is Robert Mattson's subject, and while two guys watch a tube that's really the audience, a play-by-play caller and a color-commentator stand behind their couch spouting satires of their real t-v counterparts. The plot features one spectator choosing moments of high football drama to mumble a series of escalating confessions, from a borrowed and ruined drill to screwing the friend's wife. And of course the black-out line is "What did you say about my DRILL?" And here I confess that I don't know the names of any famous sports-reporters, so though I know that Nathaniel McIntyre, Ken Flott, Gordon Ellis and Robert Charles Jacobs were the cast here, I have no idea who played who. They done good, in any case.
I tried this year to jot down a word or two per show to insure that I would not, ritual-like, find one play bringing no information out of my memory. Well, with this play I wrote "missing daughter" and right now that phrase is as opaque as the title. Greg Lam wrote it, Wesley Savick directed for the Theatre Department of Suffolk University, and the actors were Charles Fox, Jaime Montesano and Elizabeth Maddock-Weinstein. That's all I can say. Sorry!
**NOTE: see the appended letters for explanation!
A whole flood of plays this year involved The Dysfunctional Family in various ways. In this one, for instance (written by Kent R. Brown and directed for Speakeasy Stage by Elaine Theodore) a daughter (Roxy Wongus) living on the streets in rebellion against her father's beatings of her mother meets mom in a park, accepting some clothes and some food, but rejecting a present. Cheryl Singleton (who moonlights as a long-form improv artist) was mom.
This play was written by the first Artistic Director of the historic Charles Playhouse, Michael Murray, and directed by Adam Zahler of the New Repertory Theatre. It was set in a different park, with a divorced father (Ben Evett) trying to keep his young son (Gabe Goodman) playing so as not to run into his ex-wife's live-in lover. An old loiterer (Leonard Auclair) cautions the guy to pay more attention to his kid to protect both of them from kidnapping --- admitting that he had kidnapped his own son, only to have him snatched back by his mother when he least expected it. It's then that the parental bickering ends as dad tries to get his son's knitted cap on, straight for a change. Short, subtle, and smoothly done.
In Jon Lipsky's wierd confrontation Richard McElvain played a new-age mystic trying to give up performing mystic miracles, with a magic drum hanging on the wall. But his daughter --- or perhaps the daughter of his ex-wife? --- asks that he re-fill her empty medicine-bowl. He asks that she beat the drum, and her empty bowl feels heavy again after the ritual. Elaine Vaan Hogue directed for The Vineyard Playhouse.
This neatly shaped confrontation had Stacy Fischer packing to fly to something like a Peace Corps gig, and visited by William Gardiner as an ex-con father asking to play some significant role in her life again. Directed for the Publick Theatre by Ben Lambert, the small details of her slow, reluctant change of heart fell softly as the tumblers in a safe opening. The actors think the performance in the other theatre was better, but they certainly got to me.
The desperate divorce here (Raymond Ramirez) broke in on a pair of all-night store clerks demanding money to pay up his child-support rather than lose his child forever. And despite desperate attempts by the kids to talk him out of it, his self-image as a congenital loser led to a suicide. Summer L. Williams directed for Company One.
Whoops, here's another of my "Alzheimers' plays". Jacqui Parker directed Ed Bullins' play for her Our Place Theatre Company, but all I remember (and the one scribble "South" doesn't help) is that, as the play ended, I had no idea what it meant or how its parts worked together. Frank A. Shefton the Our Place playwright-in-residence did sound, and the cast included Jennifer Young, Eda Roth, Bill Bruce, Denise Stephens, and Talaya Freeman. Again, I apologise for my lapse of memory.!
**NOTE: see the appended letters for explanation!
Then there were a set of plays that were clever and unique. Take this Scrabble game, with words, playing strategies, and challenges adding subtext every play. R.J.McComish directed for the Portland Stage Company, and Barbara Mather and Noel Hoban were the contestants.
in Ben Spiro's well-wrought little play three young adolescents played a game of one holding another's feet while dangling the other over a cliff and threatening to let go. Nick Christopher and Eric Murphy liked the idea of facing fear --- or feeling fear take over when the possibility of doom felt real. Laurie Berich, however, had decided the game was childish, and preferred to lure one of them away with escalating sex-games. At the end, friendship and the game drew him back.
The true surprise here was three high-school kids, directed by Marty Johnson, with scant technique but sincere talent, who made every step of the show believable.
In this brief bit, two retirees had their ritual argument on the same park bench --- one of them (William J. Devaney) trying to engage his friend in serious thinking about things he's read in the GLOBE, while the other (James Bodge) preferred to keep mind and eyes free to oogle the passing pulchritude. The real person identified in the title "perfected" wrapping individual slices of processed cheese. The argument started over why such a minor achievement is worth a headlined obit, and ended with both agreeing that everyone's life-experiences --- even their own --- is worthy of note.
This play was set at dessert-time at a dinner party for two couples. Only one of the four ordered an obscenely rich chocolate cake, but she offered to share. A younger pair explained that they decided, when the pressures of living took precedence over sex, to "bank" it and then, once a year, to turn the kids over to their grandma, check into a spa, and --- well, and to squander their "savings" on shameless self-indulgence! The primer, older man thought that childishly selfish, but softened at the end. Before that, his wife complained that he should have arm-wrestled the other man for the check --- and when the other pair returned found herself arm-wrestling the younger wife over some similar triviality! Kelly Dumar's play was neatly crafted for a fine cast of Pauline Wright, Dave Rich, Janet Dauray, Stephen Cooper, and Jim Robinson as a very believable waiter, and Jim Butterfield directed it carefully for the Mugford Street Players in Marblehead --- where I've never had proper transport to see any of their productions. Damn!
I have no idea how Tom Grady's play turned out, but it started with Bobbie Steinbach sitting in a white wing-chair exactly center-stage talking about herself, about the chair, and about the fact that she'd spend the entire play in the chair. I thought it was another, fascinating monologue, until Michael Kaye with a bucket and mop came in asking where was the stove he was supposed to fix, and told it was a refrigerator --- though the woman preferred to rechristen with the much more beautiful word "Gonnorhea"! Grady's love of luscious words and unhurried speeches so blinded me to anything else but the calmly expressive performance that I couldn't tell you how the show ended. No matter. Stage Manager Eileen Kelly and director Judy Braha saw to it that I hung on every word, whether I understood them or not. The sponsor here was The Jewish Theatre of New England.
In Gail Phaneuf's eerily gritty little play, Jerry Bisantz --- director, playwright, optometrist --- turned actor. He appeared, shoes in hand, trying to argue with Patti Hathaway (as a uniformed guard with an electric wand in her hand) that he had to meet his wife for their flight overseas. Then also uniformed Patrick M. Brennan took his shoes, responding to his objections with the oft to be repeated phrase "It's ... policy!" Ordered to stand "Here", to strip off his shirt, to put on not his own shoes but combat boots, to put on this combat-fatigues shirt, to take this automatic rifle... Suddenly he found himself in a combat zone, with a gun but no bullets, crying for a logical answer to why and told nothing but "It's Policy!" Blackout. It was stage managed by Thom Blackwell and crisply directed by Christine MacInally for Playwrights' Platform. Knocked my damn socks off, it did...
I don't know how to categorize this gem. Ted Rheinstein set his play in the greenroom of a talk show, in which a Democrat named Sheldon Frisch and a Republican named Kate Larson --- and I gather that people who own television sets know those as real people --- wait to go on and plug their obviously very different books. Dale Place and Lea Rene sniped and pot-shot one another calmly and brightly over those opposing views, culminating in his response to her faith that the weapons will, eventually, be discovered. Shayna M. Ross, directing for the Lyric Stage Company, sandpapered the action smooth and razor-sharp --- till it felt too real to be a mere skit.
But a lot of playwrights used their ten minutes in the spotlight for one-punch or one-theme skits --- like Monica Bauer's "The Most Important Thing" or Patrick Gabridge's "Den of Iniquity" --- that wound up, let go, and finished fast. For this skit, Ryan Davis and Annie Watson played Darryl Zombie and Melissa Maitai --- mixed drinks. Honest! Karen Carpenter and Mike LoCicero played their drinkers, and Joe Iozzi played a waiter. You think mixed drinks can't converse, can't get over-alcoholic, can't hope to be left on the table when the lights go out in order to ... mingle? Where's your willed suspension of dis-belief?? Karen Carpenter did costumes (and garnishes), Moira Costigan directed for Providence's Perishable Theatre --- and Tom Doyle wrote this gorgeous bit of fluff.
Robert Brustein wrote this ham-handed little confrontation between the ghost of Mohammed the prophet (Remo Airaldi) and Osama (Will Lebow), and David Wheeler directed for the American Repertory Theatre. I wish I could say it was biting, original, or insightful, but I didn't even find it very funny. My fault of course.
Once I got the idea that Shelley Bolman and David J. Hansen were playing lung-fish poised at the edge of some ancient sea wondering what might be over the sand dune before them, Timothy Sawicki's cute little play looked --- well, cute and little. Caitlin Lowans directed for Stoneham Theatre
Gregory Fletcher's skit started with Christopher Barnard and Sara Nowalk tangled in an empassioned kiss, then guiltily flustered when Stephanie Marquis and Li Trew dashed in from the kitchen --- and it was clear that the two lovers were each two-timing their spouses. Director Patricia Riggin assisted by Jennifer Mingucci kept the pace fast and the guilt and ecstasy carefully in conflict till the final revelation: that the couples are really gay and lesbian!
Miranda Hope's elaborate skit won the prize for Most Actors On Stage, which turned Kevin Fennessy into a ringmaster/choreographer as well as director, and used Naya Chang as sound designer and Paul Dixon as assistant-producer and stage manager. Her playlet was set in a fast-food restaurant with menu's as big as dictionaries. Devon Jenks was the point-of-view customer, Cheryl McMahon the waitress, and Joseph Siriani as the cook. The wry gimmick, though, is that this restaurant brings whatever the customer orders --- in life. For instance, at the close of the play, Mikki Lipsey as a silent widow ordered death, while Paul Dixon as a priest gave her last rites. Once she got the hang of ordering, Jenks as the central figure tried for several different men, and two or three different jobs and life-styles. Eve Passeltiner, Daniel Bolton, Richard Arum and Alisha Jansky put in brief orders, while McMahon kept whipping around all the crowded tables, order-book in hand. Certainly a skit with eye-opening originality.
And, last but by no means least: the obligatory Red Sox play! Jack Neary directed his own work for the New Century Theatre, wherein Chris Loftus played a Red Sox managerial flunkie besieged by Andrew Dolan as an obvious crackpot. The poor, wild-eyed bloke kept waving a brief-case around, insisting that every time he opened it some insidious dark forces saw to it that he got well-paid for the service. And what, you ask, happened every time he opened it? --- well, The Curse struck the Red Sox again. Yes, he insisted, The Curse was in the case, he was too weak to keep from opening it, and he was begging this poor flunky to take it from him!
Now, I am not a baseball fanatic, but even I recognized a few of the names and events that the text insisted became black history when this guy opened his box. Neary wound his little fantasy tighter and tighter, until the wearied but skeptical flunkie called security and watched the mad gadfly open his case, and flee cursing. At which calm moment a phone call announced that some important baseball talent had just signed not with the Sox but the Yankees. This was the forty-fifth and final offering back in Studio B, where I stood, worked the cramps out of my knees, and joined the celebration just beginning in Studio A!
And Just Wait Till NEXT YEAR!!!!!!
Date: Wed, 21 Apr 2004 09:44:15 -0400 (GMT-04:00)
From: Caroline Ellis email@example.com
Subject: You are awesome, Larry
Larry, I can't get over that you review all the Marathon shows. (I saw only 27 plays; my much less comprehesive summary goes up on TheaterMania.com later today.)
Regarding two plays you sought a memory jog on:
"Next October" was a play about fanatical Red Sox fans that have a bunch of sayings and moves they keep repeating for good luck. The new girlfriend is skeptical about why the guy needs his old girlfriend around to bring the Sox luck.
"Spaces" was hard for me to remember, too, as the two stories didn't seem to hang together. Two aged, deranged Southern white women seem to count on two African Americans to settle some issue between them. They exit. The black actors enter then and sit on a blanket and discuss a conversation the man once had when asking directions from an old guy who turned out to have dementia. I am afraid I didn't get it, and I am a person who digs "abstract."
Date: Wed, 21 Apr 2004 09:48:26 -0700 (PDT)
From: Greg Lam firstname.lastname@example.org
Subject: Next October
Hi there. First, thanks for all your good work. Your
site is a vital part of the scene.
I just wanted to jog your memory a bit. I'm the playwright of Next October, the play you've erased from your memory banks. (no problem, keeping track of 45 plays is tough.) My play was the other baseball play. Three people watch a playoff game, two of whom are dating and two of whom broke up because they kept going to games in which their teams lost.
The "missing daughter" note was undoubtably from another play.