How many romantic break-ups can a person sit through in the course of an evening? Well, about two-and-a-half (out of three), based on a couple of hours at Common Basis Theatre's Little Delusions, an evening of one-act dramas.
The first, Christopher Gandley's Pizza Man, highlights a multi-year relationship gone sour. The play shows the devastation in an affair that has lost its energy. Gandley, also as the lead actor, portrayed his listless character's devastating evasiveness with conviction. And a forceful Jicky Schnee played his hapless, unknowing victim. The contrast in energies between these two actors created sparks.
In the opening scene of the evening's second production, Little Delusions, playwright and actress Angela Cantelli treated us to a startlingly funny look at the intersection of romance and acting class. The astute actor Etienne Navarre conveyed grand ennui and dismissiveness as the "great" Mr. Weiss, her acting teacher. The script was obviously written to highlight Cantelli's considerable comic talents. Her little-girl voice and sharp comic timing cried out for more of the same humor. Unfortunately, the play spiraled into a harshly angered portrait of an abusive, dysfunctional fling. The silliness was all but left behind. Lloyd Price dynamically played the alcoholic lover, doing his best with some of the weaker material in the play.
Marcia Haufrecht's sure-footed direction grounded these first two pieces in the engaging realism that the writing cried out for.
In the Meantime, by Dain Geist, depicts another relationship gone awry. This time, infidelity is the culprit. As the lead actor, Fred Waggoner brought a brooding confusion and geniune pain to the cuckolded husband. Victoria Lazar, as his driven wife, and Robert Garcia, the seduced lover, performed their roles with great conviction. Lazar was particularly strong in her emotional tirades. As the Angel, Christopher Kerson, with a demeanor made for relaxation tapes, provided Greek chorus-like pontifications on the action of the play. But it was the no-nonsense acting sensibilities of Freddy Bastone and Nadine Miral, as the brother and sister, friends-from-the-wild-side, that brought vibrancy to this script.
Directed by Michael Halliday, the drawn-out pace of the production allowed for too much reflection. As a first-produced script, it is clear that playwright Geist has an eye for the dramatic. Several powerful scenes give this play real vigor. Focusing more on defining the critical dramatic moments of the story might help to weed out some of the extraneous material.
The set and costumes served the plays well.
Common Basis Theatre prides itself on bringing truth to the theatrical
experience. Searching for the truth in relationships that aren't
working is tricky business. The evening provided deeper insight
into this mystery.
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Copyright 2000 James A. Lopata