Source Festival: ”On The Cusp’ (Six 10-Minutes Plays) by Anne Tsang

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On the Cusp, the series of 10-minute plays inspired by the full length play, Perfect Arrangements, is a batch of amusingly funny stories about beginnings and how they shape us.

In A Unicorn on 7th and Nicollet, written by Jessica Huang and directed by Maureen Monterubio, we meet Mary (Mia Bronco) who is just coming into her own, standing on the precipice of getting everything she wants in her career. Life seems just about perfect until she meets a unicorn (Frank Turner) who just might show her that there is more to life than she thinks. Turner as the nuzzle-loving unicorn is fantastic!

The Chihuahuas Paco (Chris Aldrich) and Samsera (Mia Bronco) talk about loving their owners, Scott (Frank Turner) and Lily (Amie Cazel). Photo by C. Stanley Photography.
The Chihuahuas Paco (Chris Aldrich) and Samsera (Mia Bronco) talk about loving their owners, Scott (Frank Turner) and Lily (Amie Cazel). Photo by C. Stanley Photography.

Cake, written by Sherry Kramer is the most serious of the set of stories. Scott (Frank Turner) is dying and Lily (Amie Cazel) his wife isn’t sure about his love for her. But even amongst this serious treatise on love, and whether it really needs to be said out loud to count, there is some comic relief in the form of Lily and Scott’s 2 Chihuahuas, Paco (Chris Aldrich) and Samsera (Mia Bronco). Paco, with his Spanish accent, a nose that can always smell the “scent of love” and penchant for peeing on the Scott’s oriental carpet helps to keep the story light. Aldrich is able to imitate the affectations of a Chihuahua so well that at times I could actually see in my mind a little Chihuahua in his place talking to me.

In With Her Old Boyfriends, There were Patterns, written by Eric Pfeffinger and directed by Kathryn Chase Bryer, we learn how Jenna’s (Emma Jackson) first boyfriend, Craig (Josh Adams) leaves emotional land mines for her future boyfriends that result in someone losing a chunk of “meat” from their nose! The story is told both through the eyes of Jenna “Then” (Emma Jackson) and Jenna “Now” (Hyla Matthews). Bryers uses quick on-stage costume changes to help keep the story moving. But these aren’t simple costume changes, Jackson and Adams takes advantage of these actions to silently convey their growing frustration with each other. 

Strangers on a Train, written by Peter J. Roth and directed by Jacob Janssen, has more twist and turns than a roller coaster! Conrad (Brandon Mitchell) bursts into Siobhan (Monalisa Arias) train car and in his cheese French accents begs her to hide him. When she agrees, what ensues is a hilarious game of betrayal, disguises, espionage, double crossing, and murder. Mitchell and Arias’ dead pan performances and delivery of each quick-witted line kept me laughing the entire time and made this my favorite of the six plays in this set.

The Frenchman (Brandon Mitchell) seducing Siobhan (Monalisa Arias) on the train. Photo by C. Stanley Photography.
The Frenchman (Brandon Mitchell) seducing Siobhan (Monalisa Arias) on the train. Photo by C. Stanley Photography.

In Supplication, Cameron (Brandon Mitchell) is trying to figure out where he went wrong in life and why he is such a failure and is convinced that the only way to do this is to go back to the beginning—his mother’s (Peg Nichols) uterus!??! Once in there, he runs into his younger brother (Josh Adams) and his dad (Jim Epstein) and it finally dawns on him why they are all so dependent on his mother. Adams does a perfect imitation of a lackadaisical, carefree younger brother and Nichols’ nonchalance at Cameron’s request to return to her uterus is priceless. 

Dale (Chris Aldrich) rescues Shelly, the mermaid (Amie Cazel) from the kiddie pool. Photo by C. Stanley Photography.
Dale (Chris Aldrich) rescues Shelly, the mermaid (Amie Cazel) from the kiddie pool. Photo by C. Stanley Photography.

In Back Stock, written by Jami Brandii, Dale (Chris Aldrich) finds a mermaid, Shelly (Amie Cazel) in the back stock room of his dad’s grocery store, after he has died unexpectedly. Can Dale convince Shelly to leave before the big hurricane hits and can Shelly help Dale come to terms with who his father was? Cazel does an excellent job portraying the hiccupping, light beer addicted mermaid. 

The On the Cusp 10-minute plays are filled with many laughs, so go check them out!

Running Time: 90 minutes, with one 15-minute intermission.

The On the Cusp 10-minute plays are showing at Source Festival on June 22nd, 26th, and 30th at Source – 1835 14th Street, NW, in Washington DC. For tickets, order them online