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AtTENtion Span: A Festival of 10-Minute Plays–Part II

October 29th, 2007 Leave a comment Go to comments

Blind Man’s Bluff

Written by Steven Korbar and directed by Mindy Childress Herman

I was a bit disappointed by this one. The acting was solid as was the directing. But the script itself, for me, didn’t live up to its potential–that is, I thought it could have done a lot more than it did. Wayne Zahn (Derek Koger) is a blind man who likes to set up–what else?–blind dates with women over the Internet, and–of course–sends out pictures of male models that he passes off as photographs of himself–apparently thinking that because he’s blind no one else will be able to see the difference either. He meets up with sexy Felicia Rufus (Sarah Kunchik) who isn’t amused by the switcheroo that dear old Wayne has pulled on her. This is essentially the set up and the premise of the whole short piece. The two argue, present justifications, debate, etc. And toward the end actually have a meaningful heart-to-heart moment about his/her own weakness, ideal, disappointment, and defense mechanisms. But all the same, Felicia is still not happy and walks out, leaving Wayne to phone the next number on his list who also liked his online avatar. This play has some genuinely funny moments (Felicia, for instance, chides herself that she should have known Wayne was blind because his hotmail address is ‘eternaldarkness@’) and the thing with the guide dog is modestly cute (Wayne talks to the dog who is outside the restaurant and the dog barks appropriately); but there is much that is irritating as well–for instance, Wayne looks around all the time asking Felicia where she’s at (when she moves, of course) when I know damn well that any blind person with heightened senses would be able to tell where the person was; and, in general, the notion that a blind person cannot get a companion, has to pay prostitutes, and generate false personas cannot be in any way taken seriously; finally, there were too many easy jokes and too many cliches to really get behind this and feel it in any meaningful way. I think Korbar needs to take a look at this and cut out all the crap and figure out how these two people can connect–even if for a short drink–because even the connection they make isn’t enough.

Henry and Louise and Henri

Written by Kathleen Cahill and directed by Greg Vovos

Hands down the funniest of them all. Henry (Dennis Sullivan) and Louise (Lynna Metrisin) are American tourists sitting in an outdoor cafe in Paris. Henry is irritated because he’s hungry and all he’s been given is bread: no wine, no meat, no nothing. And the waiter (Ryan Smith) who keeps showing up doesn’t speak a lick of English–or if he does he isn’t letting on–and isn’t interested in taking the order of the two tourists. Irritated and tired (because they walked all day) Henry just wants to eat something and complain about how France isn’t like America. In America he’d have his food. In America he’d have the service that he wants. Louise isn’t listening. In a zone of her own since the outset, she stares off–visibly distant from her husband. When she does finally speak, at Henry’s insistence, she wants to talk about the little museum they went to earlier and how physically moved she was by the beauty she there beheld–Metrisin’s acting is intentionally Pollyanna and over-the-top in its gooey ‘wasn’t it just so beautiful’ sort of way. When he hears all this, Henry is sorry that he got Louise talking in the first place; and, true to his American nature, can only talk about how small the museum was and how he had to duck and how small the paintings there were, and if Henri Matisse weren’t a midget. Louise isn’t amused. She describes how much it means to her and how she had an orgasm while experiencing the beauty that took over her body. She is transformed. She can never go back to a life the way it was. Henry is happy for her, but he goes back to the small museum: for instance, the paintings were just unorganized and on the floor and scattered all around: anyone could just come in and take one and no one would even know–the sheer irresponsibility of it was astounding to him. This, of course, is when Louise takes a small painting from the waistband of her pants, revealing that she and her husband were thinking alike. Henry is overwhelmed by this. He can’t conceive her act. It’s not like not paying the toll on the Mass pike. It’s not like she can just roll through customs with it. What was she thinking. Louise, however, states that she is satisfied with her decision. In the heat of this discussion, the waiter appears and tries to take the bread. This sends Henry into an aggressive tizzy and he fights with the waiter, finally slapping him across the face. The waiter hails a cop (Tom Kondilas) who chases Henry away as Louise safely tucks the stolen painting back into her pants. She orders vin rouge and, drinking it with a naive pollyanna happiness, tells the world how much she loves France. This play is one of the best in the festival for its delicacy of character emotion and quick ability to flesh out deeply meaningful characters and connect with the audience. Additionally, it is well acted and well directed and genuinely enjoyable to watch. It was tender, it was heartfelt, it was funny.

Find Mucking

Written by Jayme McGhan and directed by Greg Vovos

At open, Kathleen (Margi Herwald) is masturbating on a desk–or is on the brink of orgasm anyway–while reading a car manual. We, the audience, of course, don’t know it’s a car manual at the outset, but the fact that it is, and we learn this later, demonstrates the way this play rolls. While Kathleen is thus involved, Maureen (Sarah Kunchik) enters through an upstage window startling the room to life. I am unsure of the relationship between the two, formally, but they are lovers. It is possibly a professor student situation. Regardless, the two women are lovers, but in the most unlikely of ways. Kathleen loves to have German philosophy and linguistics and forms of dry composition read to her–such as congressional hearings–as a means of ‘warming up.’ Maureen, on the other hand, loves the ‘hard’ sciences: chemistry and biology, talk of oceans and saltwater. As soon as they are into it, Kathleen stops: complaining that she can smell the reek of ‘doc martins and individual thought’ all over Maureen–is she cheating? There are the denials and arguments and in the end we find out that Maureen in fact is cheating: a young art/lit student named Desmond. He seduced her with Dali and Joyce; and eventually Maureen seduces Kathleen by the same methods–this ‘new’ method–art, emotion, love. This piece was definitely funny in a smart and creative way; and quotes like “you know you’re my one true brain,” and “spank my Nietzsche” are a true part of that.


Written and directed by Greg Vovos

So, what could be better than an end of the world cocktail party? How about one at which all the guests–one after the other– make his/her exit from the soiree over the side of the building they’re partying on? And what could be better than that? A media rep is on hand to film it all. It’s hard to tell if this is just a fun piece or if it is making a serious statement about the media in our society–as the final moment is that of the lone survivor from the party–the camera man–moving down to the side of the building: he looks over the edge, pretends to jump, laughingly changes his mind, and walks out the upstage door. The remaining image for us being the man’s black jacket back emblazoned with the word MEDIA. This short piece is a good time. It begins innocently enough with a man answering the door and a woman coming in with a bottle. Soon, a dozen people have come through the door and are swirling around atop the Gordon Square theatre’s balcony–which has now become the stage. Then, out of no where, one of the party goers voices his heard more loudly than all the rest: she is protesting something and says something to the effect, “Can you believe that they would do that to me?” After her statement silences the whole crowd of party-goers, she walks to the front of the stage/balcony and jumps. It is, of course, obvious that the actor is only falling three or four feet, but she drops and disappears and screams, decrescendoing her scream over time–attenuating it, as it were–until she slaps the floor–the thud being of course… So then, over the next dozen actors or so, the same scenario plays out. It is brilliant in its simplicity and in its hook: the party rages, a party-goer talks loudly about some insult–boom, over the edge he or she goes. It reminded me of 4 Murders by Brett Neveu where, of course, four murders occur–but it’s how they occur–and how the audience comes to expect them like clock-work–that makes the play interesting.

Scream was a great finale to what I would assert was a fun and successful 10-minute play festival, as 1) it involved all the actors from all the plays, 2) at the end they all pop-up from the balcony and take their bows. But more, the manner in which the audience had to travel around with chairs involved the audience; the short pieces were fun and active–for the most part–and engaged the audience and, like Raymond Bobgan, CPT’s Executive Artistic Director says,

“It’s a bit like a wine tasting. It’s about enjoying all the flavors, savoring the exploration, and defining your own tastes. Not every wine will appeal to everyone, but the next is just around the corner.”

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