Leaving Tampa

By Edward Crosby Wells
Directed by Frank Calo and Ellen Sandberg

The Callback

By Robert C. Boston, Jr.
Directed by Frank Calo and Horst Staudner
2001: A Spotlight On Festival Odyssey
Raw Space
Non-union production (closed)
Review by Sheila Mart

Leaving Tampa is set in an airport waiting area, an ideal background for the two protagonists, Roy (Robert C. Boston, Jr.) and Marc (Richard Brundage) to thrash out and examine past and present relationships. Roy, who recently lost his father, is filled with self-loathing and bitterness stemming from his father's emotional and physical abuse toward him as a child. Coupled with his intense feeling of self-hatred is his candor about his homosexuality. He also displays tremendous insecurity as a playwright. His Catholic upbringing has made him acutely aware of the hypocrisies of his parents. He is tortured by these memories and unwittingly thrusts his conflicts on his lover Marc, who patiently tries to pacify him and help him move on. Marc is merely a pawn, rather than a full-blown character, written to advance Roy's emotional progress. The device of having Roy talk to the ghost of his father, Wayne (Doc Fletcher), trying to explain the latter's neglect and absences during Roy's childhood, is effective in helping Roy work through his problems.

Roy's mother Ellen (Ellen Sandberg) -- or is she a ghost too? -- was on stage throughout most of the play and said not a word. We learn that she was instrumental in Roy's religious training, so why isn't her character developed? Perhaps the author has the answer.

The piece was sensitively directed by Frank Calo and Ellen Sandberg.

The Callback, although predictable in its outcome, is nevertheless extremely well-written by Robert C. Boston, Jr. and was most entertaining. It tells of a director, Ellen (Ellen Sandberg), casting a play of her own based on the events leading up to the death of her aunt, who died 15 years earlier in the same theatre where she is now holding callback auditions. An actor, Payne (Robert C. Boston, Jr.), arrives unannounced. He claims to have been sent by a casting director. When Ellen checks this out, she finds no record to back up his claim. When he reads the script with Ellen, she realizes that he has such a tremendous understanding of the role of her late Aunt's fellow actor, that she wonders if he was that actor and was involved in her untimely death, deemed an accident at the time.

The direction of Frank Calo and Horst Staudner gave an appropriate sense of urgency to the production.

The performances of Sandberg and Boston in this piece were highly commendable and riveting. Boston displayed a consummate versatility and understanding of both his roles. In the first play Brundage did what he could but ultimately seemed miscast. Fletcher gave a credible performance as Wayne, a thankless role.

The settings (unaccredited), stark yet effective in both pieces, used a couple of chairs and a table. The sound designs of Robert C. Boston, Jr. for both plays were pertinent, suggesting the right atmosphere in each instance. The lighting (unaccredited) was imaginatively used, especially in the second play. The costumes (unaccredited) were merely adequate.

Box Score:

Writing: 1

Directing: 2

Acting: 2

Set Design: 1

Costumes: 1

Lighting Design 2

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Copyright 2001 David Mackler