Melting pot

One Act Festival Series A

42nd St. Workshop
Equity showcase (closed)
Review by Julie Halpern

The 42nd St. Workshop's third annual one-act festival spotlighted four diverse plays written and performed by members of their active 200-member workshop. The company is known for their exceptional classical productions and innovative new works, and, as usual, the evening fulfilled the audience's expectations. Using little or no sets, the bare-bones look of the stage did not detract from the high quality of the work.

Three O'Clock in the Morning, written and directed by Ben Alexander, is the tale of Larry and Kitty, a couple whose marriage lacks the passion Kitty craves. Kitty has taken to getting up in the middle of the night and leaving Larry alone in bed to spend hours in a chat room. Kitty has indulged her desire for romance by drifting into a steamy cyber-relationship with Don, whose sensual description of his own desires sends Kitty into ecstasy. Jennifer Sage was an adorably earthy Kitty, and John Lisanti was likably agitated as the frustrated Larry. David Copeland was a sensually sleazy Don. Alexander directed his subtly hilarious play with a deft touch.

Serious Poker, written and directed by Frank Hertle, was all its name implies and more. JL, a detective, and Harry, an accountant, play poker for the highest possible stakes. The winner gets three million dollars, and the loser dies. The game is presided over by Martin, who tortures his companions, driving them to distraction with his uncanny skill in identifying aspects of their personal lives by their body language and behavior. JL reacts with posturing arrogance, but Harry, who has bet his children's college money and is obviously losing, is destroyed. Al Goudy was intense and charismatic as the macho JL, and Jeff Taylor's fragile, intellectual Harry had the audience at the edge of their seats. Eric Walton's cold, ruthless Martin was fascinating to watch. The play is reminiscent of Alfred Hitchcock's psychological thrillers, and Hertle directed with the taut energy his complex script required.

State of the Art, written and directed by Mike Vogel, is a vulgar, black comedy that is so funny it's pointless to complain about its tastelessness. Robert Weller, a descendant of Otto Frank, wants to revive The Diary of Anne Frank, but is having trouble finding a producer. Scraping the bottom of the barrel, he finds Flip Langston, the proprietor of a combination Off-Off-Broadway theatere, copy shop, and God knows what else. Langston agrees to produce the show but wants to update the classic by setting it in a bowling alley, adding rock music, and casting one of his copy-shop employees - a sexy bimbo named Tawny - as the teenaged Anne. Morty, another employee, has provided some insipid 1970s-style music. Tawny's over-the-top dance routine and Morty's feeble guitar-playing finally push Robert to the limit.

Timothy Harris was wonderful as the beleaguered Robert, and Rick Eisenberg was a hilariously smarmy Langston, appropriately outfitted in a ghastly Hawaiian shirt. Andrew Fitzsimmons was a riot as the languid, clueless Morty, and Amelia Borella managed to find some genuinely funny and sympathetic moments as Tawny, avoiding the traps most actresses playing this type of role might fall into.

The Antique Shoppe, written by Scott C. Sickles and directed by Paula D'Alessandris, is a delightful story of two residents of a retirement community who meet at a dance and connect romantically. Hilary is a patrician beauty whose son Emmett appears to be endlessly meddling in her life. Jack is a lively widower who has been alone for many years and is ready to love again. Emmet is involved with Gladys, the recreation director of the facility. The script has a feel-good quality, but at times the characters' motives are unclear.

Patricia O'Connell's Hillary undergoes the greatest change, at first coming across as cold and distant, and later blossoming into a warm and vibrant woman due to Jack's attention. Mack Harrell was loaded with charm and subtle humor as Jack. Don Bill's Emmett and Lori Faiella's Gladys were less successful, due to their underwritten roles. D'Allessandris's direction enhanced the warm and fuzzy ambience.

Box Score:

All Plays:
Costumes 1
Set Design NA
Light/Sound Design 1

Three O'Clock
Writing 2
Directing 2
Acting 2

Writing 2
Directing 2
Acting 2

Writing 2
Directing 2
Acting 2

Writing 1
Directing 1
Acting 1

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Copyright 2001 Julie Halpern