Saturday, August 08, 2009

Summer Shorts 3 - Series B - 59E59

"Summer Shorts 3 - Series B" at 59E59 Theatre, August 8, 2009

After the disappointment that was the majority of Series A, Series B held up noticeably better, overall.

The four offerings were:
  • Carole Real's "Don't Say Another Word"
  • Keith Reddin's "The Sin Eater"
  • Roger Hedden's "If I Had"
  • William Inge's "The Killing"
Guess which one was the best?

In "Don't Say..." Stephanie D'Abruzzo's Laura carries Any Grotelueschen's Josh for the seven minutes of "reasons to be pretty" NOT written by Neil LaBute. No anger, angst, scheming or outrage - just one scene of a man repeatedly shoving his foot in his mouth while dining with his girlfriend - all fluff and totally inoffensive. Totally.

Mr. Reddin seemed to have lofty hopes for his offering - none of which were even approached. Badly written, badly cast, badly staged and badly acted, the audience suffered through this pointless attempt at Greek tragedy set in a contemporary African-American suburban household. Only Rosalyn Coleman's efforts as the doomed mother came close to presentable. Mr. Reddin has officially updated the trite "Webster's Dictionary says..." to "If you Google revenge..."


The second half offered a bit more to hold one's interest.

Roger Hedden's "If I Had" sets up a bit of class conflict as the landscape maintenance guys Slim (Shane McRae) and Augie (Andy Powers) ponder life in a service class business, while Audrey (Emily Tremaine), the daughter of the homeowners suns herself sipping on an umbrella drink. The dialog is clever and real, though the three scene division felt a bit choppy. Director Billy Hopkins redeems himself here for the unpleasant product of "The Sin Eater" which he also helmed. It's an interesting premise with some things that feel worth exploring.

The final offering is a late one-act from William Inge. Mac (Neal Huff - not naked onstage for the first time I've ever seen him in a play) has brought home Huey (J. J. Kandel) for more than conversation. Huey, who's been around the block a couple of times, thinks it's for "queer stuff" which he's done before because the money was good, but he's wrong. Mr. Huff's Mac is a lonely, miserable Catholic who can't bring himself to commit suicide, so he wants Huey to do the job. Mr. Kandel's Huey finally succumbs to Mac's pleading and answers his wish. Some nice moments here.

Sadly, the two geese in the row in front of me, found such a concept hilarious, tittering and laughing inappropriately throughout. Mr. Inge's play, though not his best, certainly stands head and shoulders above anything else presented on the program and deserved a more serious response.

There could have been one decent night of theatre pulled from the two series.
  • "Don't Say Another Word"
  • "A Second of Pleasure"
  • "If I Had"
  • "The Killing"
Still, credit to Mr. Kandel for producing a couple of vehicles for himself. I'll be interested to see what is on the schedule for next summer.

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