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A CurtainUp Review
Summer Shorts, Series B
For review and details of Series A go here.
Series B of Summer Shorts at 59E59 is mostly devoted to comedy. This is fortunate because the one serious endeavor, Randee Smith's Windowshine, doesn't seem to engage the actors and certainly doesn't engage the audience.
Windowshine is about a brother (John Sierros) and sister (Pilar Witherspoon) awaiting the outcome of their father's suicide attempt. In imitation of Greek tragedy, the dialogue contains much poetry, but it doesn't help define the characters or explain either the siblings' or their father's behavior. The result is a play that never happens.
Tom O'Brien's one-man show, The P.A., is a funny and all too true portrayal of a film production assistant on an outdoor city shoot. O'Brien is brilliant with the attitude, self-importance and insecurity of a man relegated to the fringes of fame. His run-in with the police, which ends in a ridiculous dissertation on the nature of reality, is hilarious. But in the end, The P.A. is more a stand-up routine than a play.
Merwins Lane by Keith Reddin is a real jewel. Jay (J.J. Kandel), an American soldier returning from Belgium, not Iraq, meets a pre-teen named Claudia (the charming Clara Hopkins Daniels) at a bus stop. Claudia's matter-of-fact way of talking about personal tragedy is funny, refreshing and moving. Then her Aunt Sara ((Rosalyn Coleman) arrives, and it turns out even sweet young ladies may not be what they seem.
Tina Howe's Skin Deep cleverly mixes the subway ads of dermatologist Dr. Zizmor with Greek myth. Dr. Marvel (Grant Shrud) is seated on the R train when a barefoot young lady with greenish skin runs into the car. His immediate diagnosis is "early sign of elephantitis or Staten Island Lyme disease." Soon a young man (Joe Kolbow) dressed in Greek robe comes onboard in hot pursuit. Skin Deep keeps getting better.
The final play, John Augustine's Father's Day, is a dark comedy that depicts three peoples' reaction to the death of a friend. It's Father's Day and Gina (Catherine Curtin, who has a great talent for comedy), a grief counselor by profession, is in the apartment of the dead friend, Kevin. She is stuck with the job of distributing Kevin's possessions because his executor, the spoiled rich kid, Calvin (Colby Chambers), arrives late. As she calls up Kevin's friends and relatives, she leaves messages like, "You probably knew Kevin was sick. . .well, he's not anymore," while Danny (Chris Wight) fixes drinks and complains that Kevin never called him so he couldn't be there at his death. Father's Day brings out all the selfishness, guilt, compassion and awkwardness in American death rites with great skill.
Most of the plays require a minimum of scenery, which is a good thing because when a show needs more elaborate structures (e.g.: Skin Deep) there are huge delays in transitions. But all in all, Series B offers an entertaining and thoughtful evening of theater.
Easy-on-the budget super gift for yourself and your musical loving friends. Tons of gorgeous pictures.
Leonard Maltin's 2007 Movie Guide
At This Theater
Leonard Maltin's 2005 Movie Guide