Tempting orchestrations


By Suzanne Bachner
Directed by Patricia Minskoff, David Leidholdt, and Suzanne Bachner
The John Montgomery Theatre Company
Equity showcase (closed)
Review by Andrès J. Wrath

Temptation's tag line, "A Unique and Original Showcase," might be cause for feeling jaded. It seems everyone in New York's showcase is unique and original, but on viewing it the work feels self-indulgent and misguided. But Temptation is grounds for thinking of the showcase as an untapped art form.

Temptation is 23 excerpts from the talented Suzanne Bachner's repertoire of dramatic works. The excerpts themselves are bold and lively little gems that range from a taxicab ride through New York, to Alice's Wonderland, to the mind of a manic, to the goings-on in a sex club - and likewise a funeral home -, the ultimate lounge, and even a visit to the Actor's Studio. As conceived and arranged by Ms. Bachner and Patricia Minskoff, these excerpts are not merely standard scenes ending in blackouts but more like a musical composition. Through the course of the evening, scenes are repeated; themes are rehashed and illuminated by surrounding scenes. For instance, in Don't Let Destiny Push You Around, Ramona (Judy Turkisher) gets into the cab of Jack (Michael Neeley). She soon discovers that they have met in the past in less than proper circumstances. The cab ride is tracked through the evening as the pair goes from a standard business transaction to something far more complicated and intimate.

The evening featured outstanding staging by Ms. Minskoff, Ms. Bachner, and David Leidholdt. The pieces seemed to fly at breakneck speed without ever feeling thin and anemic. The set design by Charles Townsend Wittreich, Jr. is dead-on for its kind. The theatre itself was set up as a cabaret for this production and allowed three playing areas. As one scene ended another began immediately after, allowing fluid momentum with no dead spots in the evening. At moments, it felt as if a tennis match were in progress. The lighting design by John Tees III was effective: warm in the more romantic or moving pieces and chilly and distancing with the more menacing ones.

The talented cast all filled their roles with commitment, energy, and precision: Alex McCord, John Houfe, Judy Turkisher, Michael Neeley, Laura Burns, Laura Lee Ash, Mark Diaz, Rebecca Doerr, Anthony Giagrande, Barbara Hentschel, Patrick Hillan, Anna Cody, Stacey Tomassone, Felicia Scarangello, Russell Hamilton, Travis Stroessenreuther, Francis O'Flynn, Corey Carthew, Lynne Sherwood, Wendy Rich Stetson, Margaret Stockton.

Box Score:

Writing: 2
Directing: 2
Acting: 2
Set: 2
Costumes: 1
Lighting/Sound: 2

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Copyright 1999 Andrès J. Wrath