The six short plays that make up Eric Alter's Knockout are truly winning and well-conceived. Although Alter's company of actors and directors at times appeared strained, they still managed to succeed with this first-rate material.
In Absolutely Anything, Meryl (Mellisa Vaughn-Dean) will do anything for an acting role, but what is a casting director (Kristin Colaneri) to do? The script was amusing and clever enough to make one wonder how much funnier the piece would have been had the acting been toned down. Vaugh-Dean and Colanri had enough presence to sustain interest, but some attention was lost when they turned frantic.
Win, Place and Show again displays the writing talent of Mr. Alter. Father (Michael R. Thomas) and Son (Pat Cobb) spend a day at the racetrack. The metaphor of betting comes center stage as these two try to connect at some level. There seemed to be a strange disconnection between the actors that made the piece seem a little uneven in performance. It was unclear whether it was the acting or the actors commenting on the characters which caused the tension.
Although not as deep as some of the other pieces of the evening, Brownie Scout Encounter was hilarious. Marvin (Larry Shagawat) is preparing to go on a date with Gail (Allison Crosby) when a psychotic Brownie Scout (Lily Burd) knocks on the door. Reminiscent of a play by Christopher Durang, this play was just plain fun. Here, the acting of Shagawat, Crosby and Chris Tessler was in top form.
The acting of Shannan Leigh and Tom Dean as two people who have been heartbroken and end up on a cruise in The Moon and Amy Schmidt made this Alter's deepest and most poetic piece. Moving, illuminating and transcendent are the words best described for this Moon.
Exhaustion is a happy marriage with a feel between the mystery of Moon and the over-the-top antics of Brownie. Victor (Karlo Tooma) visits the mental-health clinic and holds the doctors (Chris Tessler and Bill Edwards) and its head Lucy (Leyda Torres) hostage in a search for a cure. Alter's wit and craft were evident as Victor tries to find a solution for his woes.
The closing piece, Knockout, lived up to its name. Vinnie (Michael Moller) is having marital woes with wife Sylvia (Melissa Pellechio) and employs ex-boxer-turned-marriage-councilor Dr. Bibbons (Bill Edwards) to help. Knockout won with Moller, Pellechio and Edwards excellent performances, Alter's excellent dialogue and David Sinkus's wonderful directing. And the final boxing match! A winning punch!
The uncredited set was minimal with a few add-ons to give the pieces a sense of location, though the lights, usually used for a general stand-up comedy plot, were barely adequate, with too much glare.
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Copyright 2001 Andrés J. Wrath