Wilde, New and Sizzling was three acts of short plays playing in repertory. The three acts were paired differently on different nights. Wilde consisted of scenes from Oscar Wilde plays, while New and Sizzling presented new works by new playwrights. (The evening reviewed comprised just New and Sizzling.)
New and Sizzling consisted of five brief vignettes each. The New plays were mostly touching or funny family stories. There was a variety of bizarre subjects, from a psychic whose dead mother gives her insight into the future to a doomed wedding day to a mother’s monolog about a recent experience with her daughter. The first play, Driving Daughter, explored the relationship between a mother and her daughter throughout the years; it was split up amongst the other plays to suggest the passing of time.
Sizzling, as the name implies, was much hotter and sexier; its scenes mostly dealt with strange couple relationships. For instance, there was a couple revealing fetishes and fantasies, a couple going on an incredibly awkward dinner date, and a couple pondering whether or not they were in love. Unlike New, all of these plays were presented in order, without any single one continuing throughout.
Most of the plays were funny in parts. Some meandered a bit. Most could use some tightening: the gag grew old by the end, or the pace could have been faster. None of the plays presented were painfully boring, however. The funniest, best-written one of New was Susan Goodell’s Well Really, in which a family keeps revealing shocking secrets to each other. The plays in Sizzling were all fairly comical in their eccentricities. Ross Stoner’s Sweet Jane, about a guy still obsessed with his ex-girlfriend, is especially hilarious; as are moments in John Doanhoe’s Bundy’s Follies and Stephen O’Rourke’s The Dinner Date.
The actors were all very talented. They got into their roles and were very funny when they had a chance to be. Of particular note (perhaps because they got to play two different roles and thus made more of an impression) were the following. Helene Galek gave a touching performance as a mother touched by her child in Redemption Song, and then became an overbearing, deceased mother a few scenes later in Crystal Ball. Jase Draper was hilarious in both Sweet Jane and The Dinner Date.
The direction by Andy Davis, Kathy Gail MacGowan, and John Donahoe was consistently crisp and fluid, even though the scenes occasionally dragged and should have been condensed. The minimal set, by Will Geisler, served the plays well; the scene changes were very efficiently managed.
Thus, New and Sizzling were indeed new and mostly sizzling. All in all, there was a lot of laughing out loud, which signified an entertaining evening
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Copyright 2004 Seth Bisen-Hersh