An audience walking into HERE's Dorothy Williams theatre might not have wanted its ideas of theatre jarred in such an unconventional fashion. As the lights faded, Elliot Levin entered with a saxophone and flute in hand. From then on, he played throughout Dennis Moritz's double bill. Displaying the same moody quality, the production swept in in an unexpected and inventive fashion that may have left viewers elated or frustrated. Regardless, a production this bold - and which broke as many rules as this did - should not go unnoticed.
Quick, Fast & in a Hurry, the weaker of the two offerings, was all style and very little by way of dramatic structure or event. What was interesting, however, were the elements that made this piece lovely to the eye: the masks by Joe Spear and the red neon lights of the sex scene seemed to purr out to the audience. Ostensibly, the play is about the meeting of Alice (Shelita Birchett) and R (Timothy M. Douglas). The elements that frustrated were the non-sequiturs that almost seemed to add up but didn't quite, and the relationship that is always in question but that no action is taken to solidify. Perhaps playwright Moritz was actually making a stronger statement about relationships. Regardless, director Michael LeLand dazzled with his flashiness and his skilled eye. Having the incandescent Birchett and Douglas (seen earlier this year in a very different kind of performance in The Devil's Home Movies) as the romantic leads could only help make a production stronger.
Just the Boys was the more linear, less disjointed, and stronger of the evening's two plays. Basically, a mechanic named Gerry (Peter Patrikios) is trying to make things work with his artist/girlfriend, Evelyn (Jody mar). Although the story was somewhat old hat, playwright Moritz was first-rate here. He built layer upon layer of images, ideas, and characterizations without sacrificing the action of the piece. Again, Michael LeLand superbly directed his actors - as if he were the conductor and they were instruments in a band, hitting the most amazing notes. The cast, headed by Patrikios and mar, were superb. Shelita Birchett was once again a standout as the high-strung Cathy, Doug Lory was charming as the poetic Dave, Emanuela Villorini once again - as she did in Devil's Home Movies - possessed excellent comic timing, Chanelle Benz was very funny as the fortune-teller Evelyn, and Touré Aziz and Wharton Track gave their all as Ralf and Walt.
The lighting design, by Diane D. Fairchild, was nothing less than imaginative in an altogether first-rate production.
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Copyright 2000 Andrés J. Wrath