Up and down

Men In and Out of Clothes

Four One-Act Plays
By Robert Hunter, Steven Thornburg, Daniel Curzon and Edward Crosby Wells
Directed by Sok Ho Song and Frank Calo
The Raw Space
529 West 42nd Street (532-8887)
Non-Equity production (closes Jan. 22 - call for times)
Review by Andrés J. Wrath

Frank Calo's presentation of four one-act plays about men in different states of dress and undress offered mixed results but generally a welcoming energy and some fine work.

Intermission, by Robert Hunter, is a stylish piece about Marguerite Machiavelle (Betsy Allen), who is in love with the star of the Shakespearean Company, Richard Triton (Lawrence Brustofski), who in turn loves fellow company member Brandon Marsh (Troy Skeeters). Written in heightened language, the play suffers when it doesn't logically track the action (the "mock" accident is unbelievable) and gives into its "heightened" language. As directed by Sok Ho Song, Allen and Skeeters seemed a little more mannered than need be, but Brustofski was effectively baffled.

Secrets Every Naked Dancer Should Tell!, by Steven Thornburg, is a witty and sharply etched portrait of two dancers: Ron Hardwood (Marlon John) and U.K. Cowboy (Chris Murphy). Really two separate internal monologues, the play boasts some good writing - as well as the naked bodies of John and Murphy. If director Frank Calo had given the dancing one tempo and the monologues another, creating more of a contrast between what we see and what is going on in the characters' heads, the production would have risen to the level of the writing.

A Christmas Miracle at the Open Mess, by Daniel Curzon, is a very fine play about two army lieutenants, Graham (Troy Skeeters) and Chet (John Del Vecchio), who after having an affair contemplate dancing in the mess hall, despite being afraid of the homophobic attitudes of the other lieutenants. The play shifts to fantasy when the drunken Sullins (Jeff Gordon), after being appalled by their dancing, suddenly has a change of heart when the two lovers make a Christmas wish together. Beautifully directed by Sok Ho Song, the play boasted terrifically nuanced performances by Del Vecchio and Skeeter.

3 Guys in Drag Selling Their Stuff, by Edward Crosby Wells, was hilarious although a bit too long and not fully realized. The play is about two ladies, Diva (Robert C. Boston, Jr.) and Lillian (Dana Ponte), who are selling antiques for a good cause. Committed and embodied with fierce detail and energy by Ponte; Boston, Jr.; and Cohen, the play crackled - although Muffy (Bill Davenport)'s accident and Tink's death seemed a little extraneous, and the play could have benefited from making the characters (not the actors) real women and not drag queens. Director Frank Calo laid the camp and venom on deliciously thick, although the unbelievable circumstances deflated the proceedings a bit.

The uncredited sets and lighting were serviceable, although a special mention goes out to the glowing amber light in the dance scene in A Christmas Miracle. It was a lovely detail.

Others in the cast: Jim Rugino, Ellen Sandberg, and Paul Maulucci.

Box Score:

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

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Copyright 2000 Andrés J. Wrath