Library Play

By Paul Cohen
Directed by Dyana Kimball
Non-union production (closed)
Faction of Fools
John Houseman Studio II
Review by Seth Bisen-Hersh

Library Play is a mostly funny comedy with wacky characters and an inane plot. The show has very funny moments, but overall feels like an overextended sketch, which should at most be a one-act. However, the cast was talented, the set was exquisite, and the show was entertaining, if befuddled.

The plot of Library Play follows a bitchy, edgy librarian, Sandy (Katie Honaker) and her friend/accountant, Milt (Matthew R. Wilson). The entire play takes place in a library after hours, when Sandy should be shelving books, but instead is rambling endlessly about life with Milt. A good chunk of the show is banter between the two. This is interrupted sporadically by the boss, Marjory (Catherine Rogers), who despises Sandy for being rude to the customers, smoking in the building, and drawing obscene pictures in children books. The other characters include the super hyper and organized librarian, Estella (Sara Montgomery), and two gun-bearing fellows who complicate the night, Pete (Ian Campbell) and Steve (Nathan Phillips).

Very little ends up happening in this library play. The title cleverly describes a moment where the characters pretend they are rehearsing for a play to hide the night’s problems from Marjory. Cohen’s dialog is usually funny, and there were some hilarious moments in the show that demanded guffaws from the audience. But these were not enough to make the play work. Most of the plot feels incredibly contrived and absurd (even a really stupid kid is not going to try to hold up a closed library). Furthermore, some of the dialog is too digressional, the characters are only vaguely realistic, and the play fails to come to a conclusive point.

Regardless, for the most part, the cast made the show entertaining. All six had good comic timing and charming chemistry. In particular, Ian Campbell was formidably funny as the idiotic Pete; he played stupidity with much intelligence and integrity.

Dyana Kimball’s direction kept the show flowing at a good pace and with energy. The set design, by Shaun Motley, was a work of art. Motley created a library in the middle of the basement studio space. Every detail was splendid – from the clock on the wall to the shelves and carts of books.

Overall, Library Play had its moments, but does not have enough material, moral, and especially plot to make for a two-act play. The performances and set made for a good time, however, which was an invaluable outcome to achieve.

Box Score:

Writing: 1
Directing: 1
Acting: 2
Set: 2
Costumes: 1
Lighting/Sound: 1

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Copyright 2004 Seth Bisen-Hersh