The first night of Emerging Artists Theatre’s Spring EATFest offers a little something for everyone: a touching domestic comedy; a drama about Iraq; and an uproarious parody of The Sound of Music.
The first piece, F.J. Hartland’s heartfelt Postcards From a Dead Dog, features Jason Hare and Jacqueline Sydney as Clay and Nell, a mother and son who have difficulty communicating. The way they’ve overcome this problem is to write postcards to each other - the postcards ostensibly coming from Clay’s childhood dog, Roger. When Roger died during Clay’s youth, Nell insisted that he’d merely gone on a long vacation. A postcard from Roger arrived soon afterwards, and a convention was born. Hartland’s play is sweet and touching, and while it deals with issues that have been covered time and time again – coming out, a child moving from his parent’s influence, a parent’s mortality – it never feels clichéd. Part of this is no doubt due to Hare and Sydney, both of whom do stellar jobs in their roles. Troy Miller’s directing made nice use of a very spare set and kept the show visually interesting.
An Iraqi war drama is the next in line with Frank Higgins’ The Questioning. A nicely written play, it eschews the traditional war drama format, first and foremost by having an all female cast. In this play, a prisoner (Alexandra Devin), who was caught outside after curfew, is being interrogated by an American officer (Danielle Quissenberry) and her Iraqi translator (Suzan Mikiel Kennedy). A fascinating piece, it shows that people are never what one expects or wants them to be. The acting is once again excellent, with special praise to Quissenberry as the tough, yet naïve American. Director K. Lorrel Manning kept the play moving at a brisk pace and created some nice interactions between the actors.
The final piece of the evening is the wonderfully ridiculous Claptrapp: The Sound of Musicals by Joe Godfrey. The play brings to mind a group of musical theatre majors, maybe all a little drunk, trying to create something outrageous for a student show. Spoof The Sound of Music! Have Maria played by a guy! Try to work in quotes from as many show tunes as possible! Work in lots of words that sound dirty, but really aren’t! And whatever you do, be sure to make a joke about the Mother Superior’s “What is it you can’t face?” line! What could have been a sophomoric train wreck in amateurs’ hands is in Godfrey’s hands a sophomoric success – silly, frothy, ridiculous, but marvelously funny. Featuring a very talented cast, Amy Bizjak, Christopher Voeller, and Steven Hauck as the Von Krapp family, Laura Dillman as the wonderfully-named Jolie Tata, and Hershey Miller as the Mother Superior, it is really Courter Simmons’ Maria who steals the show. Director Melissa Attebery does a great job of working in several of the iconic moments from the film. Also worth noting are Ellen Reilly’s costumes, especially the clever job done on Maria’s novice/governess costume.
Emerging Artists Theatre’s Spring EATFest is off to a good start.
Copyright 2007 Byrne Harrison
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