Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Mere Mortals"

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide


"What Happened in Boston, Willie"

Reviews of Current Productions

note: entire contents copyright 1998 by Larry Stark

"Mere Mortals"

"Fore Play"
"Mere Mortals"
"Time Flies"
"Dr. Fritz & The Force of Light"
"Degas, C'Est Moi"

by David Ives
Directed by Daniel Gidron

Scenic Design by Susan Zeeman Rogers
Lighting Design by Richard Testa
Costume Design by Gail Astrid Buckley
Sound Design by John A. Stone
Prop Design by Wendy Joseph
Production Stage Manager Bill Butler

Actor One...........Derek Stearns
Actor two................John Kuntz
Actor Three...........Richard Snee
Actress One................Sara Shea
Actress Two.......Terry Donahoe
Actress Three....Judith McIntyre

Apparently David Ives doesn't write plays, but he is an excellent cartoonist. Still, The Nora Theatre Company is incapable of doing anything but flawless theater, and Scenic Designer Susan Zeeman Rogers, Director Daniel Gidron and the cast have served up these little dessert bonbons with broad, colorful, deft strokes. Although cute and clever are the only words for David Ives, it doesn't matter that an hour later your mind is hungry again. While it's happening, the giggle-factor here is supreme.

Ives expands tiny ideas to ultimate conclusions: what if intelligent may-flies learned from a nature program that they'd be dead in another six hours? What if high-iron construction-workers got the notion they were actually famous "lost" children? Are miniature golf and seduction merely games repeated with minor variations? Can David Mamet's short plays be reduced still further? It is a credit to the company that the word "mere" associated with these skits is significant only in retrospect.

The six-member cast has to play instant character-changes here, with 44 different roles to fill, some for only an instant. It's amazing that Judith McIntyre and John Kuntz can be so movingly silly as may-flies seconds after the three guys had been construction-workers, or that all six could make three sets of golfers seem different when they use nearly identical dialogue.

The art is in the details of course, in the acting and elsewhere. Susan Zeeman Rogers for instance had to grapple with a wide, shallow stage the dimensions of a letter-slot, and solved it by adding a second-level playing area stage-right and lots of quick on-stage scene-changes worth watching. Gail Astrid Buckley and Wendy Joseph found fabulous golf-togs and green wings and spring-loaded antennae to accent the cartoon aspects of the skits. And Daniel Gudron has his entire cast skipping from idea to idea, keeping one jump ahead of the audience all through the evening.

It's good to see the Nora Theatre Company having mere frothy fun with these playlets. However there have been short plays in the Playwrights' Platform summer festivals every bit as good as these, some a great deal better. Doubtless they don't get precisely detailed productions such as this one because the authors' names don't yet have the drawing power David Ives' does.

But we shall see.


"Mere Mortals" (till 8 November)
Boston Playwrights' Theatre, 949 Commonwealth Avenue, BOSTON

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide