The things some theatres come up with to while away the hours of summertime until full seasons begin. The Montgomery Playhouse has come up with a most clever and entertaining format of entertainment in their One Act Play Festival this 2014 summer. Eight shows running on alternating nights in groups of four, there’s a little something for everyone. And if there is a play that doesn’t particularly strike your fancy? On any given night you have three more to enjoy. An exciting chance for actors, directors, and lovers of theatre to involve themselves in fun new works; the play festival is an ingenious opportunity to present a side of theatre that most community theatres do not often get to feature in their schedule season. This review covers the performances featured in Group B.
Written by Evan Guilford-Blake with original music composed by Konstantine Lortkipandize and Directed by Maria Benzie, this is the first of the shows in Group B and the only one that does not fit the bill of the other three. Involving folklore of an indeterminate nature, the play focuses on the cycle of life and death through the weaving of time and the great loom of life. While the folklore allusions are of a good intent, it is unclear whether they are of Native American origin or some other background and this makes the story hard to follow. Of the four shows this one struggles with pacing as well as basic textual delivery. On the upside, there is a talking cat named Sam (Kryss Lacovaro). Prowling about and hissing at the unseen Weaver spirits, Lacovaro’s character is the most intriguing in this one-act; the words she delivers holding the most poignant and clear messages.
Written by Eric Coble and Directed by Natalia Gleason, this is the funniest and most polished of the four one-acts presented in Group B. Starting with a stunning silent dance routine executed between Ricardo Burrgess and Brian Galvez, the performance focuses around the chaos that implodes into pandemonium inside of an unspecified office upon learning that corporate HR is coming to visit. The opening dance routine is spectacular; a visually fitting representation of the push and pull that corporate America can take on the individual office worker. Director Natalia Gleason encourages thorough character development in this production, each of the four featured characters having unique standout attributes that sets them apart from other performances.
The show-stealer here is Frank (Joseph Mariano) adapting a complex lisp and overall nerdy and nervous disposition to his character; creating a caricature of paranoia and unease with grandiose gestures. Mariano makes his character heard, especially when he has to deliver the news of the pending HR visit; his overall spastic responses to being thrown under the bus for his own office indiscretions being the heightened epitome of hilarity. Equally as hilarious is Kristen (Michael Sigler) the ditzy flamboyant office girl. (Gleason’s choice to cast a man in the role but keep the gender feminine adds even further confusion and hilarity to the performance.) Sigler adapts all the familiar hallmarks of a fussy gussy office girl and makes his character rival Mariano’s in the fight for attention.
Both Chip (Brian Galvez) and Margaret (Yvonne Paretzky) get their moments to shine as well as the office erupts into utter pell-mell insanity, but for fear of giving away some of the funniest moments of the play, it shall simply be said that both Galvez and Paretzky have a way of sliding into the radar of the audience’s direct notice.
Written and Directed by Frances A. Lewis, this one-act has the potential to be developed into a full-length feature play. A great deal of potential lies in wait within the plot and character development of the show, which revolves around Evie (Debi Preston) her wound care nurse Jennifer (Stephanie Shade) and some unseemly behavior between her never-seen son Desmond, the handyman Conrad Goode (David Jones) and a special agent from the FBI (Matthew Datcher). Lewis has constructed brilliant irony in naming Conrad Goode as he has; making a conman sound good in his approach to swindle the little old lady. The acting is on par for the development of the story and overall it is an interesting little piece of theatre that feels slightly unfinished. By the play’s conclusion you are left curious and wondering, wanting more, and intrigued by what has happened thus far. Shade and Preston get along well on stage, having the perfect little tiffs between cranky and stubborn patient and the insistent and stringent home-visiting nurse. Overall a lovely comic gem with a good moral to the story.
Fight or Flight
Co-Written by Natalie Brunelle and Kryss Lacovaro, who also directs the piece, this show is so absurd that it’s brilliant. Super heroes. Real life conflicts. Dating troubles. Enough said. It falls to three characters, with a hilarious hanging of clouds as the scene is set high in the sky where Blurr (Jimmy Santos) can have the conversation’s upper hand by having the home-field advantage. Yet another production where telling the details of the plot will give it away entirely for its brevity, so settling for knowing that it is comic genius incarnate will simply have to do. The hormonal and moody Delay-a (Liz Fox Corrente) makes for a wild series of real-life dating-style arguments between her and Santos’ character. Add in the acrobatics of Femme Force (Ashley Byrd) for good measure and you have one entertaining one-act that will keep you laughing and rooting for the good guys, if you can just figure out who’s who.
Lacovaro and Brunelle’s writing is not only clever but concise and conceptualized in such a fashion that this could be a sitcom segment or sketch comedy segment, easily fleshed out into something further with these well constructed characters and scenes.
Group B runs opposite nights of Group A, so for a full variety try to catch both nights of shows!
Running Time: Approximately 2 hours, with one intermission.
The One-Act Play Festival plays through July 27, 2014 at the Gaithersburg Arts Barn – 311 Kent Square Road, in Gaithersburg, MD. For tickets call (301) 258-6394, or purchase them online.