Reviewed by Tony Annicone
The Growing Stage of Rhode Island College presents two companion piece one act plays, "Laundry and Bourbon" and "Lone Star", which take place in Maynard, Texas. The first is a funny and witty tale of three small town wives whose marriages haven't gone the way they expected. The second is about two beer swilling brothers and the rich nerd who disrupts the evening by borrowing a cherished car without permission. Directed by Joanna Scoggins who is adept on both sides of the stage, she makes the most of the comedy in each show, set during the Vietnam era, letting all the characters have their special comic moments in both shows.
The composite set consists of a backyard porch and the backyard of a run down bar. The scrim is backlit for the first show and the second one is lit up with stars. The discontent and disillusionment of the characters is portrayed very well but is presented in a funny way so the audience gets the message of the author but enjoys the show, too. This is a student run production. Joanna as director pays attention to the humor of the piece, blocking her actors deftly in both scenes. She is aided by her assistant director, Jennifer Stevens and stage manager, Marissa Dufault. The whole tech crew does wonders on the show and they all deserve a lot of credit for a professional presentation.
The actresses in the first play are Ali Angelone,(Elizabeth) Nicole Gemma, (Hattie) and Lauren Dulude(Amy Lee). Elizabeth is married to Roy, the high school hero who went to Vietnam, got shot and returned home, a different person. She still loves him and wants to hang on to him. Her friend, Hattie settled on another boy from high school after being dumped by Roy's best friend Warren.She has three wild children and enjoys her visits to help fold laundry and get drunk. The snooty rich, Baptist blond, Amy Lee intrudes on them, sells them pancake breakfast tickets and gets drunk. Ali plays the long suffering wife with the inner strength the role calls for. She makes you root for her character to get her husband back on track and enjoy their life together. Ali is the voice of reason among the three women and tries to keep things calm. Nicole's Hattie is very funny and bawdy, making her a hoot. She has rolled down stockings and a bright green dress which Amy Lee wears causing the friction to mount between them. Nicole uses many facial expressions in her role and her phone conversations with her kids and mother-in-law are comical, too. Lauren plays Amy Lee with an obnoxious laugh. She wears a blonde wig, gloves and hat setting her apart from the other two wives. Lauren makes the audience dislike her character, doing a good job in this haughty role. The chase scene and the puking scene let the crowd see her get punished for her bad behavior. The three women play their roles wonderfully.
The actors in the second play are Justin Jutras, (Roy) Jason Marchetti (Ray) and Brian Ottaviano. (Cletis) Roy is the town hero who is idolized by his brother, Ray and town nerd, Cletis. Justin makes this swaggering good ole boy come to life with his beer swilling and strong line delivery. His many funny moments include the biblical story applied to his brother's fornication with a married woman, his puking offstage to his brother's recitation of the poem, Star Light, Star Bright and his stories of his many conquests in his pink 1959 Thunderbird. Justin pulls off this role beautifully. He has gone from child roles to adult roles with ease since when I first directed him when he was 11 years old. Jason makes the slow dimwitted brother into a believable person who depends on the love of his older brother and shows his disappointment when he fails to live up to his brother's trust in him. He shows his comic side when he is stalked by Roy while sitting on the park bench. The relationship between Justin and Jason shines through in the Vietnam story and the reactions are right on target throughout the whole scene. Brian Ottaviano makes a humorous, Cletis. His nerdy glasses and costume complete the audiences expection of a character with that hideous name. Brian's pratfalls and comic expressions help flesh out his role. So for some exciting theatre, put on by RIC students, go see these two one act comedies, you will get the laughter you need to lighten your spirits.