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LETTERS TO EDITOR
by Laura Hitchcock
The five sleek Worldly Acts taking place at the Tiffany Theatre showcase writers published in director Francis Ford Coppola's Zoetrope: All-Story, a literary magazine which won the 2001 National Magazine Award for Best Fiction, in collaboration with artistic talent representing New York's Urban Empire theatre and film company. The literary genesis shows in some of the plays, particularly Boise, Idaho by Sean Michael Welch and The Stolen Child by Amanda Beesley.
Boise, Idaho, the curtain-raiser, is presented by an author in search of two characters. Narrator (Glenn Kessler) is sitting at a sidewalk cafá in Paris, observing the ever-changing volatile relationship of Olston (Peter Jacobson) and Chastity (Julie Dretzin). As the piece progresses, we realize the story Narrator tells is acted out or contradicted with bewilderment by Olston and increasing aggravation by Chastity. We also realize the uncertain Olston is a double for Narrator and (the story of his life perhaps) Chastity, unequivocally played by Dretzin, gets out of hand. The amusing ending is slyly satisfying. Lizzie Gottlieb directs with understated attention to the comic values.
Elizabeth Dewberry addresses the familiar battle of the sexes in Who's On Top? in which a young couple opening their wedding presents are presented with a double-decker crypt by his mother. This device opens the door to a quarrel between the hip bride with her streaked hair and the upright straight-arrow groom dissecting the function of gifts, the motives of mothers, the dynamics of control and love on a scale of one to ten. Daniella Feenix and Ford Austin are well cast in a sprightly production by Paul S. Eckstein.
The most original writing in the comedies zigzags in a Chinese box of surprises from Garth Wingfield in Daniel on a Thursday. Urban Empire's Creative Director Jack Merrill plays Kevin as a scruffy character layering mysteries beneath his ingenuous facade who encounters beautiful Daniel of the mobile face (Scott Paetty) in a gay bar. Director Bjorn Johnson's astute flair for action serves this play particularly well.
Only Amanda Beesley sounds a serious note. In The Stolen Child, a young couple sit side by side telling us about their honeymoon in a remote African village. They revisit a woman Elliot (Mike Weaver) met while in the Peace Corps with unintentionally tragic results. Ilisha (Lanette Ware) is African-American whose social conscience and conscientiousness is used as one of the many layers that divide civilization from the natural world. The couple's conflicts are also exposed by their experiences. In the hands of Weaver and Ware, their awareness of being extremely centered in the zeitgeist is helplessly at odds with their efforts to grow. Director Laramie Dennis's keen sense of pace does justice to Beesley's many-textured play.
The last play Homecoming by Joe Borini reverts to broad comedy. Farce, pure and simple, it's an excellent showcase for a fine cast under the exuberant direction of Adam Davidson. Jennifer Grant's stage training stands her in good stead delivering projection in which not a syllable is lost. As Mary welcoming her sailor husband home from three years at sea, Grant expresses a mousy façade beneath which anything could simmer. Jerry O'Connell brings bewilderment to fever pitch as her husband Dan. A delicious turn by Jeremy Lawrence is icing on the cake.
Some of these plays were seen in a staged reading at The Falcon Theatre -- and also Off-Broadway in New York
6, 500 Comparative Phrases including 800 Shakespearean Metaphors by CurtainUp' s editor.
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