Love hurts


EATFest: Spring 2008 (Series B)


Produced by Emerging Artists Theatre (

Roy Arias Theatre Center, 300 W. 43rd St. (5th floor)
Equity showcase (closed
May 4, 2008)

Review by Byrne Harrison


The B Series of Emerging Artists Theatre’s Spring EATFest is a little like the Sesame Street song “One of These Things Is Not Like The Others.”  Three of the plays have at their heart a disturbing touch of death. In Leslie Bramm’s Islands of Repair, it’s a slow lingering death from exposure after a shipwreck. In Love, Me (Margaret), by Jennie Contuzzi, it’s a murder that springs from deep love. In F.J. Hartland’s Onions, it’s a slow wasting from dementia and a speedy death from cancer.


Only Chuck Rose’s The Letter, a comedic play about a misunderstanding caused by an e-mail, doesn’t fit the mold. Not to say it isn’t good, but it doesn’t feel right when up against these other plays.


Love, Me (Margaret) is the darkest and the most moving of the four plays. Margaret (Irene Longshore) wants to be loved, loved in a way that she has only seen once before, when Harry (Ron Bopst), her former teacher, killed his dying wife. Both Longshore and Bopst give excellent performances, as does Ashley Green, as Margaret’s love-struck coworker. Contuzzi’s play is well-written and excellently directed by Kevin Brofsky. Love, Me (Margaret) is the high point of the evening.


Islands of Repair, the first short play of the evening, finds a husband (Scott Klavan) and wife (Elizabeth A. Bell) in a raft after their sailboat sank. Surrounded by sharks, tropical sun, and years of repressed frustration, the banality of their everyday lives is slowly stripped away forcing them to truly look and listen to each other. The short scenes combined with the blackouts between them make the play seem a little choppy, but director Melissa Attebery does what she can to mitigate that. Klavan and Bell are especially good, working as they are, in a very confined space. Their excellent chemistry makes the husband and wife’s love/hate relationship that much more realistic.


The Letter tells the story of Arnold (Cash Tilton), a successful businessman, who has a crush on a visiting contractor, Rebecca (Shaun Bennet Wilson). With the help of his assistant (Marc Castle), he writes a letter telling Rebecca how he feels. An awkward typo complicates things, but actually provides Rebecca and Arnold a chance to have some more meaningful discussions. Tilton and Wilson both do an excellent job playing Type A personalities who haven’t left much room for personal relationships in their lives. Tilton, in particular, does a wonderful job as his character finds himself overwhelmed by a teenage crush. Director Raza Allan Kazlas has a good sense of comic timing and keeps the action moving at a brisk pace; however, at times the production feels somewhat under-rehearsed.

The final play of the evening is Onions. Coming on the heels of The Letter, and featuring a tough-as-nails nurse (Hershey Miller), a foul-mouthed granny (Vivian Meisner), and her out-of-breath son (Ron Bopst), it’s easy to think this will be another comedy. And while it is played for laughs at first, it quickly turns serious. Aaron, the son, has just been diagnosed with a particularly fast-moving cancer and all he wants is his mother, Dinah. Dinah has dementia and doesn’t recognize much of anything. Knowing he only has one shot, Aaron attempts to find some way of reaching through her haze to connect with her. Director Dan Dinero does a good job balancing the comedy with the drama, and the cast, especially Bopst, does a marvelous job.

Though it is an unusual mix of plays, EATFest Series B is well worth seeing.


Box Score:


Writing: 2

Directing: 1

Acting: 2

Sets: 1

Costumes: 1

Lighting/Sound: 1


Copyright 2008 by Byrne Harrison


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