Flying on one wing

Flyers And Other Tales

By Kate Marks
Directed by Heidi Handelsman
Midtown International Theatre Festival/WorkShop Jewel Box
Equity showcase (closed)
Review by Charles Battersby

Flyers and other Tales is a trilogy of short plays, all written by Kate Marks, and collectively offering "A peek at what it's like to be invisible." “Invisible” being a metaphor for the annoying people who are tuned out and ignored by the majority of the public.

The first play is Buried, which is about three subway performers in search of an audience. One of them is Roy (Cory Gibson), a poet, who's also a doomsday prophet and 9/11 survivor. He meets Kit (Maria Squerciati), a young woman not entirely sure what her act is (though it involves flaming hula hoops and knives). They are joined by Rhett (Mark Light-Orr), whom many New Yorkers can readily identify as that guy in the Times Square station who does the salsa with a life-sized doll (Rita, his dancing doll, was played by Alison Saltz). The three debate the artistry of what they do, with Kit being uncertain, Rhett arrogantly confident, and Roy confused yet hopeful. There's lot's of dialog that could be played either sarcastically or straight, so, ultimately, it isn't clear what Marks’s opinion on the subject is.


Those aggressively religious folk come next in Marks’s second play, Converting Numbers. Three people are waiting on line to get into a public bathroom, when one of them starts talking about religion because “People standing in bathroom lines are less likely to walk away.” Again, it's not entirely clear what Marks's take on religion is, since she creates her own religions for the skit. Eventually another religious group shows up, espousing the virtues of the "Process of Elimination" and the scene shifts away from the show's motif of "Invisible" people, and veers into the surreal.


Finally Marks addresses those annoying people who hand out flyers on the street, with Flyers. This one almost immediately lurches into the surreal as the flyer distributors (Julia Davis and Marc Santa Maria) are revealed to be ghosts, or trees, or ... something.


Whatever one might think of surrealistic playwriting, the design for Flyers and Other Tales was certainly effective. The upstage wall was mostly taken up by a screen, with lighting behind it, which allowed the shadows of offstage actors to interact with the players onstage (set designed by Heather Cohn). This trick was used in all three scenes, and helped establish continuity for the whole show. Sound (Greg Duffin) seemed to be authentic subway sound effects, with actually subway guitarists singing faintly in the background.


Performances varied drastically, though Marc Santa Maria was notable in the final scene as a charismatic flyer guy who screamed "PAZAM!!!" every time he handed out a flyer. Mark Light-Orr stole the first two scenes, especially as the outrageously Latin Rhett. Cory Gibson, on the other hand, had the unfortunate tendency to laugh at his own lines in the first two scenes.


The obnoxious people whose lives are chronicled by this show are rightfully ignored by the rest of society, and Flyers and Other Tales makes the mistake of trying to look too deeply into their souls.

Box Score:

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

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Copyright 2005 Charles Battersby