Lights! Action!

Splash! 2000

8 New Plays by resident playwrights of the Waterfront Ensemble
New Perspectives Theatre
750 Eighth Ave, #601 (212) 279-4200
Equity Showcase (closes August 26)
Review by Ken Jaworowski

If Con Ed runs out of electricity this summer, don't worry - there is enough energy in the Waterfront Ensemble's eight new short plays to light New York City for weeks. Powered with boundless enthusiasm, each performance in Splash! 2000 was the theatrical equivalent of a 1,000-watt bulb. Indeed, even though a few of the scripts are in need of polishing, the actors never failed to be bold and energetic, shining strongly enough so as to draw away from any weaknesses in the writing and brighten the New Perspectives theater.

The Monkey's Paw 2000, by Nancy McClernan, set the series off on a rollicking note. A modern retelling of the classic horror tale, the play is more tongue-in-cheek than its predecessor yet sufficiently gruesome to please fans of the original. Bruce Barton particularly stood out as the corporate manager who oversees the horrible result of a woman getting what she wishes for.

In Snacks & Meals, Jeff Baskin proved himself a better actor than writer, for his jolly performance was squandered on a play with no satisfying beginning or end. The next piece, Kerri Kochanski's Enormous, offered much the same. Geoffrey Molloy and Marisa Sanders generated plenty of tension in the story of a teenager who, distraught over her appearance, debates getting a nose job. But the play provides little more depth than an episode of Beverly Hills 90210.

What Kind of Person is Tarzan? by Suzanne Marshall is not only the best play of the eight, but leaves one hoping Ms. Marshall will expand it into a longer work. As their marriage crumbles, a confounded husband and dissatisfied wife hide their disappointments from each another. Within minutes Marshall (and the first-rate pairing of Tim Barrett and Trent Oliver) had the audience both saddened and smiling and, at the bittersweet end, wanting more of this intelligent and superbly directed piece. Although The Taste of Yes, another story of teenage angst, screams for an editor's red pen, it is potent enough to display the underlying talent in Luigi Jannuzzi's writing and in the acting of Adam Kass and Lori Prince. Shaft's Illegitimate Half Brother, written and performed by Stephen Coleman, is the amusing story of an actor's roller-coaster career. Mr. Coleman seemed like a warm friend spinning yarns, though as friends sometimes do, his tale rambles on a bit too long.

Kate Milea has a sure-fire winner in Park Bench Bingo. Yet one more pair of teenagers is up to their acne in anguish, and Milea has a keen ear for their dialogue, presenting language both poignant and perky.

Elizabeth Vacco and Michael Winslow were terrific, as was everything else about this charming crowd-pleaser.

Too bad Splash! 2000 ended on a weak note. Robin Rothstein's The Pussy in Question reminded one of a 10-year-old using blue language to shock rather than entertain. More tedious than funny or offensive, yawns were heard for the first time in an otherwise energetic 95-minute evening.

Each of the eight plays was cleanly directed, relying on strong acting rather than props, of which there were few apart from a table, bed, or chair. Beryl Armistead needed improvement on the lights and sound; music or lighting cues were late at least twice. But overall, such problems were overshadowed by a talented, fun-to-watch cast. Without question, the plays and players of Splash! 2000 were eclectic and electrifying, and powered the audience to a great deal of applause.

Box Score:

Writing: 1

Directing: 1

Acting: 2

Set: N/A

Costumes: 2

Lighting/Sound: 1

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Copyright 2000 Ken Jaworowski