Less is more

One-Act Play Festival

By Michael Jalbert
Directed by Michael Jalbert
By Michael T. Folie
Directed by Tanya Klein
Creative Artists Laboratory
Trilogy Theatre
341 W. 44th St. (316-0400)
Non-union production (closes April 17)
Review by Sheila Mart

This is a well-balanced one-act program - opening with a tragedy (Bash) and followed by a comic fantasy (Splice). Bash is another gay-bashing story about two college-student lovers who were attacked in a parking lot by a gang of bigots. One of the victims (Todd) dies from the severe beating he suffered, while his lover (Ben), who ran, survives. Ben's best friend (Danny), a lesbian, comes to the hospital to comfort Ben as Todd is dying. As Ben relates the events, with Danny's support, to one of his professors (Frank), he exudes tremendous guilt, feeling that he abandoned his lover. During this three-way confrontation, Ben and Danny accuse Frank of being insensitive to the needs of gay and lesbian students, because he threatened to dissolve the gay and lesbian student union. Frank then reveals his own homosexuality and tells of the death (from AIDS) of his lover, whose name was also Ben - or "Benji" as he keeps calling Ben. Ben accuses him of being closeted.

At this point, Benji's ghost appears to Frank - he was played by the same actress who played Danny. This device didn't work; along with some other problems, it stemmed from the difficulties of multicasting - there were too many characters for too few actors.

Michael Jalbert's writing and directing were succinct and quite moving.

The performances of both Matthew Hubbard (Ben) and Lance Phillips (Frank et al) were commendable, except that Hubbard shouted too much. Justine Stevenson (Danny), strangely, came across better as "Benji" - as Danny she was too one-note.

The second play, Splice, is a thoroughly engaging comic look into the future - in the year 2131. It concerns the efforts of Sugar to copy the brain cells - which include all the memories - from her 136-year old lover (Ronald) into a young robot (Clone). This way she will have the advantages of an experienced head on a sexy body. Ronald, who is close to death, objects to this procedure. But Sugar convinces him that he will live longer in this new "body." There is another robot (Jeeves), who is programmed to serve her master, Ronald.

This well-written play provides a satirical slant on society's age hang-up.

The performances of Natasha Graf (Jeeves) and Mindy Cassle (Sugar) were superb, except that Cassle tended to shriek too much. Michael Jalbert (Ronald) and Christian Baer (Clone) were effective in what they were asked to do.

Tanya Klein directed perfectly and sustained the pace necessary for such a piece.

The set design, by Michael Jalbert (this guy's a talented triple-threat!), for both pieces was acceptable, given the paucity of wooden boxes and a few chairs with which he had to work.

"George Spelvin"'s lighting was mostly adequate - more interesting in the second play.

No costume designer was involved in this program.
Box Score:


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


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

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Copyright 1999 Sheila Mart