One-act plays are often more focused on formal concerns, and one important aspect of dramatic form is the use of time. These four plays deal with time in conscious, if different, ways.
ABCD, by Suzanne Cogan, starts with a yuppie couple, A and B (Ingrid Griffith and Terrence Keene), waiting for guests C and D (Maria Gabriele and Richard Brownstone) to come over for cocktails. (Do they already know these guests? Is there some hidden history?) When the party is over, the couples have swapped, and A-D instead of A-B now await the arrival of B-C for cocktails, restating the lines from the beginning.
This play shows that layers of non-sequiturs do not a Pinter play make. The actors' delivery was by turns squeaky and overwrought. (Directed by Cailin Heffernan.)
Making Change, by Eton F. Churchill, starts as a waiter (Jay Billiet) and two friends conclude a meal - he by taking their money, they by wondering whether he got a 20-dollar bill or a ten. The discussion wanders down so many byways of recent memory (Did I break that bill I got from the ATM? Did I buy a newspaper with it?) that the play becomes an intriguing commentary on the evanescence of reality itself, dependent as it is on how we remember it. Diane (Suzanne Gilad) finally convinces the waiter to give her change for the twenty, then, after a needlessly prolonged epilogue with Sammy (Brooke Blanchard) goes back to the restaurant - to pick up the waiter?
This play's convincing attention to detail, and the actors' absorption in it, forms a mundane (if hardly original) base on which to build a convincing, and interesting, structure. If only the epilog hadn't gone on too long - it was one turn of the argumentative screw too many.
Tune Up, by Robert R. Lehan (directed by Lucille Rivin), takes the problem of exposition - every playwright's curse and, sometimes, crutch - head-on. In this play, instead of characters boringly repeating to each other, for our benefit, things they already know, Dad (Jim Wisniewski) clearly is forgetting things he just told his son, Charley (Cary Woodworth). Wisniewski didn't look old enough to have Alzheimer's, but he certainly looked panicked enough to convincingly portray a man losing his mind, and Woodworth, as a Boy Scout supposedly getting a lesson in how to tune a guitar (for his musician's badge) was also convincing, as he clearly idealized his father and now is in almost equal panic. This play also has an (absolutely unnecessary) epilog, in which the son starts to unwind in the same way as the father.
Take It Back, by Danielle Winston, shows a couple, in the process of breaking up, backtrack in their relationship to its beginning - shades of Pinter's Betrayal. Unlike Pinter, though, the playwright/director felt compelled to give the actors a special light and motion to suggest the time travel. The technique worked but was redundant. The play combined some witty lines and earnest performances, especially from Nick Anselmo as the ever-hopeful young lover. (Also with JulieHera DeStefano and Joe MacQuarrie.)
|Take It Back|
Return to Volume Six, Number Twenty Index
Return to Volume Six Index
Return to Home Page
Copyright 2000 John Chatterton