Wednesday, August 18, 2010

And a bad review for me

Current mood: frustrated

There's always one bad least...but somehow I am not sure I put a lot of stock in this guy's statements about my script...

Box 3 - reviewed by John Quinn
As faithful readers, you already know about the festival of plays, directed by women, now in rotation at The Furniture Factory. What you don't know yet is how tough it is for a director to deliver a cogent point of view in the period of time that these short-short one acts allow. In many cases, the director's success depends more upon the structure of the material than on her creative talents.

So short are these scenes that the earlier the audience understands the action, the better the entertainment experience. Comedy is going to be easier to "sell" because a plot driven by situation need not have deeply drawn characters, location or motivation. The playwright can rely more on archetypes than originality.

This mix of drama and comedy is a satisfying stew, and each part brings a distinct flavor to the palate. In fact, BoxFest is so tasty I overstayed my welcome and saw more shows than I needed to review. It's as addictive as browsing viral videos on YouTube, but a lot classier. The fact that these 16 directors are so good when so new to this end of show business means theater in Detroit can only get better!
There are some morsels to savor.

There Will Come Soft Rains by Jacquelyn Priskorn is probably one of the tougher challenges a director could face. The drama opens eerily on a draped corpse and single mourner. We know nothing about either; even the location is uncertain. We can finally infer that our characters, Arlo (Kevin Barron) and Zoe (Cara Trautman), may be the sole survivors of an unidentified pandemic in some dystopic parallel universe. They're living in a funeral parlor with the body of Arlo's lover, Brian (Sean Paraventi), who might have been one of the first victims. Dialogues by nature are static, and this one is no exception. There Will Come Soft Rains is an emotionally charged piece. While director Kennikki Jones makes an admirable effort to draw us into Arlo and Zoe's emotional orbit, the playwright does not seem to have given her the time or material to properly develop the characters.

Wonder by Kelly Rossi is an audience favorite. The naughty comedy features Megan Amadon and Angie Ransdell as two friends in an airport, killing time before a flight indulging in random chatter. The "wondering" angle comes in as they speculate what it's like to have a penis. I will let you "wonder" from there. This is another static dialogue, and director Katie Galazka tries to liven up the action. Some of the blocking is unnecessary, since the audience is more interested in what we're hearing than what we're seeing. The writing is crisp and wicked, which added a little spice to the performance.

A larger, more elaborate "dramedy" is John Wencel's Flowers, directed by Kristen Wagner. The play is slightly longer, and the playwright has better outlined the characters. He has given the director a good handle on the plot. The setting is immediately understood: Beth Grayson (Linda Rabin Hammell) is a star whose twinkle is dimming. Stuck in the dressing room of a daily soap opera studio, her boredom is interrupted by the entrance of an adoring fan (Greg Prusiewicz). "Bobby," however, has secrets to share. Wagner brings an element of slapstick to the play that works very well – so well, in fact, the piece could have been more over the top without becoming campy.

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