The 42nd Street Workshop’s one-act play festival had more variety than a box of assorted chocolates. Ranging from the hopeful to the edgy, each play held a distinct flavor all its own. And even though a few may not have been for all tastes, there was almost always a chuckle to be had or an idea to be explored.
The first play, Carmella’s Indecision by Rahti Gorfien, is the story of a woman who leaves her husband then seeks her sister’s advice on what to do next. Although the piece fell into the trap of trying to say too much in a short time, it still had the ability to provide a few laughs and showcase the acting talents of Gorfien, Jerry Less and Catherine Tambini.
In contrast to Carmella, Veronique JeanMarie’s Inner Field Boxes took a minimalist approach, presenting the tale of three men who communicate more by nuance than by word as they watch a baseball game. Peter Farrell, Joshua Knapp and G.W. Reed were laudable as friends who prod and poke around a conversation rather than delve into it.
In the spirit of Eugene O’Neill’s Before Breakfast and Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Seth Bauer’s Bait offers the story of a husband and wife who goad each other with a series of verbal jabs until one decides to give up the spiteful game. Christopher Graham and Cordis Heard were first-rate as a couple with drinks in their hands and malice in their words.
The Big Nil, written and directed by Tim Harris, is the lively tale of an artist who accidentally kills a women he brings back to his loft, then frames a visitor for the crime. Marc Geller, who most recently delivered big laughs in Dysteria, was a hoot as the aloof artist who has all the pretentious answers to life’s numerous dilemmas. Dee Dee Friedman, as the unfortunate victim, also drew a big share of laughs.
Michael Lazan’s Performance Anxiety is a particularly well-written yarn about two actors working their way through a hammy costume drama. When their show is interrupted by a ringing cell phone, the actors drag the owner unto the stage to be humiliated, much to their later dismay. Tim Barker and Kathy Gail MacGowan gave entertaining performances as the struggling performers whose anger soon turns to anxiety, as did Richard Nahem as the audience member forced to answer for his transgression.
The 42nd Street Workshop deserves high praise for putting on their one-act programs. The group’s willingness to take chances and showcase new works rewards both artist and audience, and presents each with the opportunity to laugh and think. In that vein, Series C was an evening of eclectic theater, and a treat for all those involved.
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Copyright 2001 Ken Jaworowski