2016 Capital Fringe Review: ‘PowerPlays’

This clever play is composed of five vignettes with a talented cast and minimalist stage, written by ‘The Gang of Five’: Marilyn Bennett, J T Caruso, Dimitri Neos, Michelle Rago, and Sarah Dimont Sorkin. It’s directed by Ritchie Porter.

This power-filled show grabs your attention straight out of the gate, especially since we ‘live it’ in DC, the power capital of the world!


Before each scene, a narrator shares a quote about power from a famous person setting the tone. The first scene is a power struggle between a romantic comely couple (Louis Lavois and Emily Sucher) over what else? Vegetarianism.  She wants them to be vegetarian and he doesn’t. Watch as she attempts to bring him into her way of thinking! Lavois is hilarious in a kale-filled scene. Sucher’s intensity almost made me  a vegetarian!

The second scene features two older people (Dwane Starlin and Marilyn Bennett) in a nursing home, and it’s not clear which senior citizen is delusional. The elderly man enters the room with a cane and then insists that the elderly woman is his wife. He shows her pictures of their wedding day, asks her to dance the jitterbug, while reminiscing with her about the old times.  At first the elderly women protests, but then gives into the delusion to be kind.  An orderly (Louis Lavoie) comes in and rescues the elderly women from the delusional man, but she tells the orderly all is ok. It’s a beautiful scene of kindness. Starlin and Bennett genuinely set the tone of the scene making it feel real and relatable.

The third scene finds a young gal (Sucher) clearly distraught about claiming sexual harassment (or worse) at her office while talking to a manager (Keith Anderson) about it. She struggles to convey what she went through while the supervisor does all he can to shame her, and to convince her not to file her complaint. I could feel her pain. Anderson was so convincing and despicable. Great acting abounds.

Next comes a hysterical interaction between an elderly couple (Dwane Starlin and Marilyn Bennett) living out in the country. They own a chicken coop, but are being investigated by an enthusiastic regulator (Anderson). The interaction between Starlin and Anderson is hilarious. “The chickens need their own apartment?!,” screams Starlin’s character at Anderson.There is a hilarious scene with Anderson reciting all the regulations a la something in a Gilbert and Sullivan operetta. It was welcome comic relief!

Last, but not leas, the final scene features a heartwarming scene of a family (Bennett, Sucher, Lavoie) dealing with the illness of their beloved father/ husband (Starlin) and whether he should go to hospice. The anguish is felt by Sucher’s character making a boiled egg for her father and having to feed him.  A sad and poignant scene, but one many of us will have to eventually deal with. Sucher’s excellent body language conveyed the heartbreak.

Great show! Great acting! Great stories! Director Ritchie Porter does a flawless job with the quotes setting the scenes, and with the lighting and the music.

Running Time: 70 minutes, with no intermission.


PowerPlays plays through July 21, 2016 at Sixth & Synagogue’s Social Hall – 600 I St NW, in Washington, DC. For tickets, call (866) 811-4111, or purchase them online.

Check other reviews and show previews on DCMetroTheaterArts’ 2016 Capital Fringe Page.


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Marlene Hall grew up an army brat and has lived all over the world and in Washington, DC where she was constantly exposed to theater and music. Marlene graduated from the University of Virginia where she wrote for the Cavalier Daily interviewing musicians. Commissioned as an Air Force officer, she served 8 years. She now works as a realtor with eXp Realty. In addition, Marlene dabbles in improvisational comedy and has taken classes at the famed iO Theater in Chicago and the DC Improv. She is very active in the DC charity and social scene and contributes her time to veterans’ organizations Team Rubicon and Team Red, White, and Blue. She also was a supernumerary in the Washington National Opera’s Carmen with opera singer Denyce Graves. She loves the music and theater scene in DC and goes to as many concerts and shows as possible.


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