Off-Off-Off Broadway, it can be reported, is alive and, reasonably, well. As could be expected with such mass production, the quality of the plays varied greatly. ``Kenny and Lois on a Florida Dock'' is a well-crafted little play about a Floridian retiree, Kenny, and his best friend, Lois, who is relocating following her husband's death. The two drink ``a coupla Buds'' and reminisce about their lives. Kenny makes a clumsy pass at Lois who rebuffs him and calls him a ``loser,'' and then apologizes profusely. She loves her husband and always will and Kenny accepts her apology and they part still good friends.
Nathan Smith directed the play well with a sure hand and deft pauses and silences. Mike Hartman was quite sympathetic as Kenny, who dreamed of being the captain of a fleet of boats but settles for house-painting. He was funny and touching as he tried to impress Lois with his fish stories. Sonja Lanzener (Lois) complemented him well. Playwright Elizabeth Benjamin shows real promise.
``Snipers'', by Albert Bermel, was the high point of the evening, very well directed by Melanie White (who was the director of a 1995 oobr award-winner). It is a monologue by two snipers -- one a failure, the other a success. Sniper One faces a court martial, and the audience is the court. Richard Nagel explained why he is unable to fire his rifle and kill people, and in a fine performance drew the audience in to understand his fear and failings.
By contrast, Sniper 2 -- Jon Cable (who was in the cast of another oobr award-winner) -- explains to the court why he won his medal for being a world-class sniper, killing 40 people in one day. He loves his work and, eyes flashing, details his compulsion for cleanliness and how he went to extraordinary lengths to steal the right brand of deodorant for his men. Once again actor and director combined to produce exciting theater. Mr. Bermel has a distinctive writing style and a gift for language.
(The remaining three plays represented distinctively diminishing returns; they were reasonably well-acted but the actors had little opportunity with their material, of which the less said the better. One actor from Ghana, Kofi, demonstrated great energy and humor but could not triumph over the play's multiple obscenities, which so many aspiring playwrights seem to believe strengthen their work but in fact very soon become quite boring. The box score reflects the two reviewed plays.)
Copyright 1996 Dudley Stone
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