Hit and miss

EATFest: Spring 2007 (Series B)

Emerging Artists Theatre (www.eatheatre.org)
Theatre 5
311 W. 43rd St. (5th floor)
Equity showcase (closed)
Review by Byrne Harrison

The second series of Emerging Artists Theatre’s Spring EATFest features some solid moments, but doesn’t seem to come together as well as the other two. This has more to do with the plays than with the acting and directing, which are up to the usual high standards of this remarkable company.

Vamp by Ry Herman begins the series. Chloe (Stacy Mayer) is a blocked writer forced to read bad unsolicited plays for a living. Unfortunately, every bad play she reads leaves a visitor in her apartment – a spunky old gal (Blanche Cholet), Jesus in a bathrobe (Philip Guerette), and a chorus of Irish peasants who sing about the potato famine in her bathtub. Needless to say, Chloe’s life is a little complicated. When she meets the woman of her dreams, a Goth astrophysicist named Angela (Tracee Chimo), things seem to be turning around, until Chloe finds out Angela is a vampire lesbian, a script cliché that Chloe has run across time and time again.

While the acting is good, especially Philip Guerette and Stacy Mayer, Herman’s play just doesn’t make much sense. It seems that Chloe is worried that she is losing her mind and that she’ll lose Angela if she finds out about the characters who populate her apartment. Yet when Angela arrives at the apartment the characters were nowhere to be seen. One assumes they are therefore imaginary, visible only to Chloe. Yet later in the play, Jesus and Angela interact. Also making the line blurry is Angela’s appearance at the beginning of the play when Chloe is reading the first of her bad scripts. Is Angela a figment of her imagination as well?  Whether this is scripted or Angela’s initial appearance is director Kel Haney’s choice, it only muddles the line between what is real and imaginary. Granted, when you’re talking about a play where one of the lead characters is a vampire, it’s a fine hair to split, but it would be nice to know what the playwright intended.

The second play is Tell by Rodney Lee Rodgers. William (Ryan Hilliard) is a con man who has just been released from prison and is reunited with his daughter, Abigail (Laura Fois). In a case of the apple not falling far from the tree, Abigail’s resentment of her father has caused her to turn out not much different than him, and what William hoped would be reconciliation, instead turns into an acknowledgment of two wasted lives. Hilliard, who was very moving in last year’s Star Train, gives another marvelous performance, but it is Laura Fois who truly shines as the embittered daughter William left behind. Ian Streicher’s direction maintains the tension throughout this terse, affecting tragedy.

The final play, Monica Flory’s Third Wheel, is a story about a woman (Aimee Howard), her date (Erik Baker), and her stalker (Claire Tyres). Genial enough and ably directed by Ned Thorne, it is nevertheless a bit of a one-joke play, and not quite in the same class as the other series’ closing plays, Claptrapp and One of the Great Ones.

Box Score:

Writing: 1

Directing: 2

Acting: 2

Sets: 1

Costumes: 1

Lighting/Sound: 1

Copyright 2007 Byrne Harrison

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