Thursday, October 8, 2009

The Attic Wrestles With One Act Festivals

The Attic Wrestles With One Act Festivals

By Joe Straw

The 18th Annual Denise Regan Wiesenmeyer One-Act Festivals features four one act plays from entries submitted from around the country. Three of the four chosen had some kind of religious theme and the other one was about going to Pluto (now considered a rock).

Cross Purposes by Frank Cossa and directed by the very talented Christine Stump is the best of the lot. The play is about an older man Tom (James Carey) who meets up with gorgeous chick Tiffany (Amber Flamminio) to talk about the fling they had the night before. Tom thinks there are a lot of reasons why their relationship is not going to work.

One is the age difference, two is he’s a professor, three is it’s a Christian college, and four he is a priest. None of that matters to Tiffany she wants him bad and creates a scene to which the waitress (Christine Stump) sympathizes with Tiffany and offers to string Tom up to the highest tree.

Cossa, Flamminio, and Stump are remarkable performers. There are quite a few twists and turns and Flamminio actually shows us there’s a lot going on underneath the California speak. Stump, the director, fills in for a missing cast member and was very convincing. Cossa had a nice ending and you get that he does not often bed alone.

Bethany/Bakol written by Wendy Graf and directed by Maria DuMont is a one-woman one-act show. Bethany/Bakol played by Ali Deyer is about a gothic overweight teenager who is sent to Israel by her adopted parents to get some structure to her life. Not entirely thrilled to go, she discovers that Israel is not such a bad place. She finds something there, structure, and decides to stay.

Deyer is very good in this and this play is wonderfully directed by Maria DuMont. This play is informative but no reasons are given as to why Deyer is telling us this story or to whom she is telling the story to.

Lessons & Carols by Demetra Kareman and directed by Craig Jessen is loaded with teenage humor and angst. Lila (Angela Ryskiewicz) is being held in detention by Sister Fleming (Terri Marsteiner) when Gloria (April Grace Lowe) interrupts to tell Sister Fleming the classroom has been infiltrated by lice.

Lila and Gloria, not the best of friends, go at each other like a pair of muskrats in heat. Lila says Gloria “is from Loserville, population you!” And Gloria is so peppy it makes your skin crawl. Lila confesses to Gloria that’s she been having sex and not only that she is pregnant. They both realize Lila cannot keep the baby to which Gloria suggest they go to Hollywood and sell the baby to the highest bidder. “They’ll be stars!” Then something happens to change all of their plans.

Ryskiewicz and Lowe have an enormous amount of fun on stage and Marsteiner as the gruff sister shows us her compassionate heart. Craig Jessen does a nice job directing this one act.

Mary and Jon Go to Pluto was written by Matthew Tucker and directed by Michelle Begley. This is a play about Commander Jon Barnes (Tom McCafferty) and 2nd Commander Mary Templeton (Marilyn Anne Michaels) flying their spacecraft to Pluto sometime in the future and their relationship aboard the ship.

The problem is they don’t have a relationship as near as I can make out. Templeton is out to become the first woman on Pluto. In order for her to do this she must use her womanly ways to convince McCafferty to give her the title of First Woman on Pluto. And Barnes must hold on to his dignity and not let this woman take everything he has worked for his entire life. This creates conflict and the drama would be much more enjoyable.

The direction by Begley doesn’t go far enough to that end and the landing seems to end in a thud rather than accomplished piece. If there is conflict in this piece it is very subtle or not noticeable at all. By all accounts the characters should be exhausted fighting for their objectives by the time they hit the rock.

McCafferty looks the role (a former West Point graduate) and Michaels is charming as the second commander and has some very nice moments. Harriette Coggs Stuckey (Voice of Houston) does yeoman work.

There’s something here for everyone. If you like one-acts this might be for you. The Attic is also having audience participation so you can vote for your favorite play, actor or director.

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