Thinking outside the box

One-Act-Play Festival

You Must Have Been a Beautiful Baby
By Tony Sokol
Directed by Tanya Klein
The Lifters
By Carol Holland
Directed by D.A.G. Burgos
Creative Artists Laboratory
Trilogy Theatre
341 W. 44th St. (316-0400)
Non-union production (closes Mar. 13)
Review by Sheila Mart

One-act play programs tend to be a mixed bag, and this one was no exception. Beautiful Baby, a one-set piece (always preferable for a one-act), is set in a billionaire's office. Emerson, the billionaire, is a convicted child molester. His money, acquired through countless illegal business dealings, has bought off judges, lawyers, and corporations who have threatened to sue him for attacking young children of their employees. As the play opens, we meet one of his earliest victims (Suzanne), now an adult. He raped her when she was seven years old, soon after her father (to whom he made a promise to protect her) died. Suzanne reveals that her mother was an alcoholic and therefore not able to raise her effectively. As a result, she was susceptible to Emerson's mind games.

In the intervening years, Suzanne has been in trouble with the law, unable to hold a job, and has been committed to mental institutions, always being rescued by Emerson, who still has a psychological hold on her. Now, Emerson - suffering from terminal cancer - gives Suzanne one more chance to improve her life. He offers her a lot of money (again to buy his innocence) or a gun to kill him and end his pain.

Tony Sokol wrote an excellent play on many levels - quite an achievement in one act.

Kim Carrell gave a well-rounded, consummate, and thoroughly credible performance as Emerson. Chantel Gonzalez, as Suzanne, was equally effective, but her performance could be improved without so much shrieking; anger is just as believable when modulated. Brian Luna and Lance Phillips did what they could in supporting roles.

Tanya Klein's direction was flawless and helped the emotional depth of the play.

The Lifters is about two young girls who are friends and have one purpose in common - to avenge their parents' abusive treatment of them while growing up. When Lynn was 14, her mother came home drunk and beat her with stiletto heels. Lynn's friend Bootsy's father, who owns a gas station, beat her constantly as a child. Lynn and Bootsy have been stealing from stores for some time and sharing the ill-gotten gains. Now Bootsy has decided to steal $5000 from her father's gas station. Needless to say, they don't get away with it.

Patricia LoPiccollo as Lynn gave an adequate performance, given the material - although she also shrieked too much when excited. Maritza Mendez (Bootsy) was not believable, perhaps due to the rather dull writing. Jaimie Sheedy as Mother gave a predictable performance. D.A.G.Burgos' direction seemed to be trying to make up for the lack of a play, with a lot of unnecessary moving around.

The set design for both pieces by Michael Jalbert was imaginative (given the space and no doubt budget), especially in the first piece. It consisted of a cutout box serving well as an office desk, a couch and a couple of chairs. In the second piece, it was three boxes moved into different configurations depicting various scene changes - a mistake in a one-acter. "George Spelvin"'s lighting was more effective in the second play as it changed from scene to scene.

No costume designer was involved in either of these productions. The standard casual uniform of blue jeans and shirt (except for Emerson and Mother) was the thing.

Box Score:

Beautiful Baby

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


Writing: 0
Directing: 1
Acting: 1
Set: 0
Costumes: 1
Lighting/Sound: 2

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Copyright 1999 Sheila Mart