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Review: Two One-Act Plays at Greenspring Players

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This isn’t the first time that Greenspring Players have focused their expertise on one act plays, nor the first time I have reviewed such shows for our website. Each show was about 45 minutes long, which forces both the actors and the audience to be ready, willing, and able to quickly absorb what is being presented. Although the playbill states that the two plays were constructed with the mystery first and the comedy second, I believe the better approach was presented on opening night; the order was reversed and the comedy was first.

In Wanted: One Groom, the opening scene could well be in the present day. The moderator who introduced the show stated that this is a 60’s version of today’s electronic computer-match possibilities. Mr. and Mrs. Shand, romantically played by Norma Hughes and Bob Clark, are a couple who met through a classified ad. After numerous years of marital bliss, they think maybe their daughter could take advantage of a similar modus operandi for a happy marriage. Their daughter, Kayla – superbly played by Marian Urnikis – places a similar ad in the classified section of their local paper; it includes some very stringent requirements as to what qualities the future beau must possess, including an interest in antiques.

Norma Hughes, Carol Tippitt, and Marian Urnikis. Photo by Terence Kuch.

During the play, Phyllis, Kayla’s sensible friend played by Carol Tippett, appears jealous of potential suitors who are answering the ad, resulting in marriage. I went into hysterics at one of Phyllis’ lines when she stated, “I have something very important to say; no, it sounds too much like a Presidential address.” (You usually go to theater to escape what’s going on in the everyday news. This unexpected line was a gem.)

Robert Goolrick convincingly plays suitor and potential future husband, Richard Townsend, who responds to the ad for antique purchases and is invited into the home. Humorous lines are inserted throughout the comedic dialogue. For instance, Mr. Shand states that he will surely be able to find an antique suit in this closet. His wife quickly responds, “Sure. You have a closet full of them.”

Mrs. Shand’s role as the mother hits home as realistic when it is announced that the suitor may visit in an hour or so. She starts moving on her walker from each piece of furniture on the stage to the other, using her dust rag to ensure that the suitor will be totally impressed with the room’s cleanliness (and hopefully her available daughter). Boy, did that dusting action ring true when compared to growing up in my parents’ household.

The set is put together in appropriate fashion. There is a love seat at center stage and a chair located directly next to it. The characters take turns sharing the seats. Stage right is a table and a telephone sits on the top shelf. The ironies that occur throughout the comedy keep the audience entertained as the plot evolves. The ending is quite hilarious, but we never tell endings on our website.

Merry Macke, Sue Franke, and Adron Krekeler. Photo by Terence Kuch.

The second one act, aptly named High Window, is introduced as a psychological thriller by the evening’s MC. Let me establish some parameters for you so you can make your own determinations as to what is going to evolve. Watching this play reminds me a lot of the old TV shows Perry Mason or Columbo. The star of this play is Emily Winthrop, adorably acted by Caroline Boubin, who spends the entire play in a wheelchair. She also happens to be the producer of both of the evenings plays and quite a wonderful actress. Be on the lookout for her facial expression at the end.

The play opens with Emily speaking with her friend and legal adviser, Stephen Craig, portrayed by Howard Wachspress. He reminds Emily, who is quite steadfast, shrewd and domineering throughout, that her husband’s death 12 months ago is still being investigated by the life insurance company. The company considers her husband’s demise suspicious, and the investigation must end before they’ll pay off any of the $1M life insurance.

Apparently, the company is suspicious that the reported “accident” of falling out of a high window might be suicide or murder, in which case there is no pay off. The only two people witnessing the incident were Emily and Walter Hodge, Emily’s meek and myopic nephew. When Adron Krekeler, who does a superb job in this role, finally takes center stage, he appears to be a far cry from the independent and debonair lifestyle he had before his uncle lost his life. Two other characters who play heroic roles in the thriller are Sue Franke, who plays the role of curious newspaper reporter Linda Norton, and Merry Macke, who portrays Judith Ware, Emily’s personal secretary and nurse. Both characters play self-appointed detective roles in the play, advancing the plot with their investigative talents.

For an evening of fun and games, as well as a night of suspense and mystery, take a break and visit Greenspring Players before the plays close this weekend.

Running Time: Approximately one hour and 45 minutes, including one 15-minute intermission.

Wanted: One Groom and High Window play through May 20, 2017 at the Greenspring Retirement Community’s Village Theater – 7410 Spring Village Drive, in Springfield, VA. Remaining performances will be Friday, May 19 at 7:00 PM and Saturday, May 20 at 2:00 PM. For further information, contact 703-913-1200, option #4.

Greenspring Retirement Community.

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