Last night I was back at CulturalDC’s Source Festival for Mortality, a series of six 10-minute plays inspired by the full length play, A Bid to Save the World. Mortality, one of the 3 themes of the festival, gives us a glimpse into how we all deal with life and death in our own ways.
In the Aurora Mainframe, written by Timothy Guillot and directed by Nick Vargas, Cody (Chris Rudy) deals with the absence of his father by re-enacting a 1-man intergalactic space adventure playing the parts of Cog and Hammerhead the interrogators, and Solider Boulder, the villain while ignoring his mom’s (Katie Ryan) entreaties to come downstairs. This fantasy helps the young boy to understand why his father is gone. Chris Rudy was one of the highlights of the night as he switched from character to character with the flip of a cape or a snap of an eye-patch. His quick character changes and dead-pan delivery of each character’s line had the audience laughing and lightened the mood from a dark subject, until we are each reminded of the fragility of life when his mom finally comes into the room.
In Nasty, Brutish, and Short, written by Jonathan Spector and directed by Nick Vargas, we meet Gerald (Kevin Collins), Claire (Carol Lampman McCaffrey), Darla (Katie Ryan) and Barry (Max Schwager) a group of strangers who are facing the zombie apocalypse together and are trying to figure out their rules for an Apocalypse Plan. In their discussions of what is right and wrong, who should we protect—ourselves, our families and loved ones, or even strangers— and if the rules of society are still valid if society has collapsed lead us to find out that not everyone in the group is a stranger to each other. They are all fighting and arguing about whether the old rules of society should be applied or should they start over from scratch when Jesse (Emily Sucher) runs into the room and announces they have had a breach, and one of their own has been killed, but she has taken care of the problem by whacking the Zombie’s head off. She then drops a bloodied backpack with the head in it *thud* on the floor. I thought Collins nonchalant, laid back attitude was an excellent contrast to Ryan’s furiously impassioned Darla.
In Painted, written by Mariah MacCarthy and directed by Angela Pirko, Michelle (Taylor Robinson) must learn to accept the fact that her mother, Alma (Gayle Carney) is dying. While sitting at her mother’s bedside, Michelle begins to reminisce about their relationship as mother-daughter, painting something for her mom for each of the important milestone moments in their relationship. Lola (Noelle Vinas), Michelle’s girlfriend arrives and begins to comfort Michelle and even manages to make her laugh. When Alma awakens, Michelle begins to paint for her both literally and figuratively a beautiful picture of a celebration that includes all of Alma’s favorite things. Painted reminds us that no matter what happens in life, what disagreements we have, the love between a mother and daughter is hard to extinguish. I don’t think there was a dry eye left in the house after Robinson’s emotional outpouring as the story climaxes and quietly ends.
In Dressing Bobby Strong,written by Stephen Spotswood and directed by Annalisa Dias, Connie (Hazel Lozano) realizes that the first person she is going to dress as the funeral director’s assistant is an old school crush, Bobby Strong (Kevin Collins). She begins to recall the memories of when they first met, and regrets that she did not let him know her true feelings. Lozano and Collins do a good job switching between recalled memories of their days as high schoolers and present day funeral director’s assistant and dead body. Collins was fantastically funny as the dead body with his deadpan face and stiff movements as Connie dresses him in his finest suit.
In The Narrow Gate, written by Sarah Bernstein and directed by Angela Pirko, Sam (Adam Adkins) and Diane (Valeka Holt) are excited about the possibility of living forever in the Exoverse with their spiritual leader, Zed. As they talk about the group, the members, and their hopes and dreams for their arrival in the Exoverse, Diane laments that departure of her best friend Jan who fell in love with another of their group members and had to leave the group. But how dedicated is Sam to the Zed. Will Sam’s actions mean that he will be dismissed from the group too and fulfill Diane’s belief that everyone leaves her? The shy dance of courtship between Adkins and Holt is adorable to watch.
In Dust to Dust to Dust, written by Aaron Weissman and directed by Annalisa Dias, Chaz (Martece Caudle) hoping to create a universe in a box, and mourning the death of his father, uses his ashes to try and create planet, because a planet means there is the possibility of life. Maya (Hazel Lozano) and Chirayu (Kiernan McGowan) are two particles of dust within that box who collide and must decide if they want to remain together and form a planet. Of the 6 short plays, I thought Dust to Dust to Dust was the most visually beautiful. Lozano and McGowan are graceful in their movements as the space particles and the moment when they collide is beautifully peaceful.
The six short pieces in Mortality make you think about not only mortality and the fragility of life, but the lives of those who are left behind after we die. If you are looking for a thought provoking, emotional, sometimes humorous night out, this is definitely the show to go see!
Running Time: 90 minutes, with one 10-minute intermission.
Another Source Festival Review:
Source Festival Review: ‘A Bid to Save the World’ by Anne Tsang.