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Marathon 2001: Series B
Ensemble Studio Theatre's 24th Annual Festival of One-Act Plays
"The Summer Sublet," "Fifteen Notes," "Inspector Ohms" and "Pandora"
by Les Gutman
One is not supposed to look for themes in groupings of one-act plays, but with Series B of this year's Marathon at EST, it's unavoidable. The common element in each of the four plays is inappropriate, misplaced love.
In "Summer Sublet," Lloyd (Ebon Moss-Bachrach), a young man renting an apartment in New York for a few months, becomes sexually involved with Bernice (Elizabeth Hanly Rice), who, with her husband, Frank (Greg Stuhr), is his landlord/neighbor. Frank, who seems to have Mafia ties, is abusive to Bernice to the point it's impossible for the already angst-ridden Lloyd to ignore.
Marathon staple Leslie Ayvazian stars as Ruth Green in "Fifteen Notes". She attempts -- fifteen times -- to write a letter to the doctor who is caring for her dying father. Although it seems at first she is concerned about her dad's well-being, and just wants to thank the doctor for his help, what she really wants to know is if they can go out on a date.
"Inspector Ohms" finds Val (David Rasche) in the office of Armina (Kristen Griffith), the writer of the series of movies that have been his livelihood. (He stars in them as the title character.) Getting wind of a rumor she's about to kill off his character, he comes to beg her not to. Things get complicated when he beds the "haughty and contemptuous" Armina.
Finally, in "Pandora," Maureen (Clea Lewis) and Denny (Marc Romeo), a separated but not yet divorced couple, come together to help their young daughter, Ollie (Ramya Pratt), bury her pet cat at a New Jersey highway rest stop. Denny still has strong feelings for Maureen, but his efforts at getting back together are dashed when Maureen tells him she has a new beau.
All four of the offerings stand on pretty flimsy ground. "Pandora" comes off as the best of the lot, with a strong Jersey character performance by the excellent Clea Lewis, and an impressive turn by the utterly adorable Pratt. While the parents go through their paces, Ollie announces the cat doesn't want to be buried there; she's just about the only person all evening that actually accomplishes anything worthwhile. "Summer Sublet" has little point at all, although it makes a vain stab at some humor at which the audience dutifully laughs. "Fifteen Notes" has a slightly more interesting construct, especially in the hands of the wonderful Ms. Ayvazian, but playwright Ruth Kirschner doesn't follow through particularly well, leaving one yearning for the more inventive self-penned solo efforts we've seen Ms. Ayvazian perform at previous Marathons. Frank D. Gilroy's "Inspector Ohms" accomplishes little and takes its time doing it.
As any theater angel knows (and we've got one here in the person of Griffith Maloney), give us a play with a cute little girl and her cat -- dead or with nine lives -- and it'll trump all those confused grownups every time.
LINKS TO PRIOR MARATHON REVIEWS
97 Series C
98 Series A B C
99 Series A B
00 Series A B C
01 Series A