Triple treat


Coming Home

(three one acts: Counting, Sparrow, Last Call on Bourbon Street)


Written by Maria Gabriele, Linda Faigao-Hall, William K. Powers  

Directed by Christine Farrell, Ian Morgan, Alexa Polmer

Living Image Arts

The Lion Theatre, 410 West 42nd Street

Equity showcase (closed June 14, 2008)

Review by Michael D. Jackson


Living Image Arts has presented a very good collection of one act plays, loosely linked together by the idea, and under the banner of, Coming Home. The first, Counting, features its playwright, Maria Gabriele, as the character Wanda, who is on her way out of prison after six years. Gianna (Maria Elizabeth Ryan) is on her way in. The two are placed in the same holding cell: Wanda, full of the energy and excitement of her release, which is moments away, and Gianna, petrified, not knowing what life will be for her in the months or years to come inside a cell. Within a short period of time, Wanda is able to give Gianna the gift of her own method of coping. Ryan and Gabriele developed interesting characters, with the play itself being engaging and satisfying.


Second on the bill was Sparrow by Linda Faigao-Hall. Two friends, Tina and Chris (Luz Lor and Banaue Miclat, respectively) meet upon Tina’s return to the Philippines after ten years in the U.S. Originally, the two had dreams of moving to America and starting a new and exciting life, but Chris never followed Tina. While Tina was learning how to survive as an outsider in New York and trying to make it as an artist, Chris became involved with a pseudo-terrorist organization in an attempt to bring down the Filipino government, and had a son. Chris and Tina’s meeting rekindles their relationship, and results in Chris entrusting Tina with a most precious memento for safekeeping. Lor and Miclat are excellent in their roles, and the play is very touching. With a great sadness and a sense of hope, the story was well-executed all the way around.


The final play, Last Call on Bourbon Street, concerns life in New Orleans during the first Mardi Gras after Hurricane Katrina devastated the city. Set in a bar on Bourbon Street, Benny the owner (Tyler Bunch) is being assessed by an insurance man (Stu Richel), hoping to receive enough money to restore his business. The insurance man’s attitude about New Orleans in general is that it will never come back and that its inhabitants should just move on and start new lives in a less volatile place. But the locals of the bar - a retired accountant, Pops (Todd Davis), a transvestite hooker (Andrew Eisenman) and two other hookers (Amanda Bruton and Raushanah Simmons), show the insurance man that home is more than an address and that Mardi Gras represents the spirit of the city and now the hope for its future. The cast is excellent, the collection of character personalities is colorful and playwright William K. Powers has written an engaging and interesting play that responds to the ramifications of Katrina.


All three plays are well directed and moreover, they are well designed considering the limitations of off-off Broadway theatre. The production is clearly on a budget, but set designer Sarah Brown has come up with a creative unit set of cement-looking panels that start out as the stark emptiness of a hard prison, separated and redressed for the representation of the Philippines, and redressed again with added furniture and wall hangings to become a Bourbon Street bar. Although none of the plays have extreme costume requirements, Sarah James has put great care into costuming the actors as an extension of character. Scott Hay’s lighting does well at covering three very different plays under limited conditions. Keith Rubenstein’s sound design sets up the mood for each play with well chosen music to lead us in and out of each play as well as evoking the necessary evidence of life off stage during the course of the plays.


Coming Home is a terrific presentation of one acts and proves that Living Image Arts is indeed one of the best small theatre companies of New York’s off-off Broadway.


Box Score:


Writing: 2

Directing: 2

Acting: 2

Sets: 2

Costumes: 2

Lighting/Sound: 2


Copyright 2008 by Michael D. Jackson


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