Friday, August 07, 2009

Summer Shorts 3 - Series A - 59E59

"Summer Shorts 3 - Series A" at 59E59 Theatre, August 7, 2009

In its third season (as indicated by the title of Mr. Pedantic's review here), 59E59 Theatre presents four new one-act pieces including:
  • Nancy Giles' "Things My Afro Taught Me"
  • John Augustine's "Death By Chocolate"
  • Neil LaBute's "A Second of Pleasure"
  • Skip Kennon and Bill Connington's "The Eternal Anniversary"
Ms. Giles' piece (which she also performed) felt like a CBS Sunday Morning feature that went on 10 minutes too long. She's personable and pulls few punches, but the result is an affable, if ineffective, attempt at theatre.

Mr. Augustine's "Death By Chocolate" seems to be a continuation from last year's Summer Shorts offering of "PeopleSpeak." Here we have a recent widow on her 50th birthday with a developing case of agoraphobia, a needling sister-in-law, and an institutionalized twin. Supposedly, hilarity should have resulted.

It didn't.

Mr. LaBute's offering is the most interesting of the four, mainly because it's a contemporary riff on the playlet from Noel Coward's "Tonight at 8:30" which became the film, "Brief Encounter." Margaret Colin and Victor Slezak play the lovers whose affair comes to an unexpected halt on the platform at Grand Central. Ms. Colin is lovely and nuanced, carrying easily through the bumpy transitions. Director Andrew McCarthy did well to not get in the way of such talent. Her performance alone is worth the price of admission (love you, TDF!).

The final piece, a chamber (soap) opera spins a variation on Puccini's "Il Tabarro" with a jealous chef celebrating his 20th wedding anniversary, joined by the ghost of his dead wife, whom he poisoned after suspecting her of infidelity. She ends his torture once he discovers her note explaining her absence at the time, poisoning him with his own food. The score was lovely and interesting, but the book was particularly weak, cramming too much plot and exposition into a 20 minute scene.

I'll be seeing Series B on Saturday - wish me luck!

No comments: