This evening of one-acts was everything Off-Off-Broadway should be: a variety of blended ideas and talents in a large, open space, reveling in humor, pathos, and compassion.
A Private Recital, by Chiori Miyagawa, pristinely directed by Julia Whitworth, began as an intriguing and amusing piece played by Christopher Logan Healy and Ron Domingo. Unfortunately, it grew less interesting as the enigmas cleared up. But David Castaneda's lighting design included a nifty umbrella illumination effect.
Duet, a lover's quarrel by Joyce Carol Oates, directed by George Macaluso, acted by Sean Michael Rice and Beth Fischer, was as unimaginative as its title, and seemed aimless in comparison with Ms. Oates's Homesick, a series of outstandingly written monologues, directed and brilliantly acted by Mr. Macaluso and Elisabeth Zambetti. Ms. Zambetti's character, essentially a runaway ghost, started out a little too Okie; but grew, as her emotions began to pour, into a more towering figure. Mr. Macaluso's handcuffed killer was a mixture of tattooed horror (recounting child abuse of a repeatedly shocking nature), psychobabble mitigations (it could all be explained by "temporal lobe trauma"), and religious fervor (constantly being "washed in the blood of the Lord"). Ms. Oates's achievement in making a necrophiliac serial killer sympathetic was awesome.
Francesca Mantani Arkus directed The Ithaca String Quartet, a clever conceit that gave us musicians'inner thoughts against a discreet background of recorded music (Matthew Fleece did the sound) . The juxtaposition between each player's motif, whether food, career, body functions, or sex, like discordant counterpoints, became extremely funny at times. Brendan Burke's bitter violinist ("Never marry a mezzo! They take it out of you!"), sick of playing the same music, gulped his Pepto-Bismol and threw away his career. Gloria Falzer played her viola "like an assault weapon"; while Stewart Jenkins mused over bowel movements, flu shots, and the family Volvo. Meanwhile, James Wetzel sawed at the cello while losing himself in the boobs and Bermuda triangle of a throw-away groupie.
David Hoffman as a hapless "Jew-bagel," manifesting prejudices of his own, turned a suburban tragedy into a hilarious comedy with "Alien Boy" by Will Scheffer. Director Brian Shnipper gave us Hoffman's bar mitzvah boy who (understandably, in his mother's high heels) didn't want to be Jewish.
Lives of the Great Waitresses, by Nina Shengold, directed by Sean O'Donnell, brilliantly depicted some very different kinds of story-telling servers from those you'll find in your local greasy spoon. Ms. Falzer complained about migraines in both feet, while Zandy Hartig gave Tony Award speeches to anyone interested in her alternative career. But the wonderful Alice Gatling stole the whole show between her attitude, her git-down body language, and all the best lines ("Jesus would have tipped double!").
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Copyright 1998 Marshall Yaeger