Sunday, June 28, 2009

If the Shorts Fit - Curtain Call Theatre

I first fell in love with theatre through the oft-maligned industry of community theatre. Therefore, when I hear of a community theatre expanding its repertoire outside of the canonized Rogers and Hammerstein and latest Neil Simon comedy, I am intrigued. Thus, my attendance at the Curtain Call Theatre's presentations of original short plays, If the Shorts Fit 2. This evening of eight short plays premiered works that span the gamut from sophomoric playwriting exercises to honestly inspired pieces. But the evening is a conubial joy of local writers and acting community. The talent may be spurious, but the spirit is omnipresent.

On the night I attended, most of the short plays dealt with some aspect of the male/female relationship, which makes one wonder if this is a deliberate choice or happenstance. The first play, "Apple" by Trevor Suthers is a contemporary retelling of the Adam and Eve story. Likewise, "Trouble with Day Care" by Josh McIlvain posits the absurd situation of a father who brings home the wrong baby from daycare. "Jump!" by George J. Bryjak presents a young male on the verge of suicide before he meets the perfect macro-biotic female for his unconsumerist ideals. "Idiots Abroad" broaches the subject of a very American couple maneuvering the autobahn in Germany as well as their personal relationship. "Downhill Ride" by Dave Tucker explores the life of an over-fifty roller-coaster rider through the narration of his best friend.

The high spots of the evening were threefold, each of which presented a view on relationships, form, and expression that were unexpected in this barn cum community theatre. The first surprise of the evening was "Heartbreak Hill" by Lisa Burdick. The protagonist of this play is struggling against the physical tolls of a marathon for cancer as narrated by the many parts of her body. When she finally decides to give up, the multiple aspects of her personality pull together to remind her of the many friends and relations she has lost to the disease. This heartfelt homage to the performances of remembrance that have become so second-nature to our culture (AIDS Walks, Breast Cancer Walks, etc.) is both heartfelt and topical.

"The Dueling Princess" by Lisa Zadok portrays the most eloquent scripting of the shorts presented. This neofeminist/revisionist/fractured Fairy Tale introduces Princess Sophia, a maiden who favors marksmanship over gowns and competition over companionship. Hiding in the local Inn, she observes from privileged anonymity as she is actually the princess of this domain. Enter Lord James, a slovenly prince who attempts to woo Sophia with his charms. However, James learns that he cannot compete with Sophia's marksmanship. Instead, he proffers supplication to her devotion through their mutual childhood experiences. The writing for this play is far more developed than any of its compatriots and I guarantee we'll be hearing from this playwright in generations to come.
The final short presented was "Not Funny," a play written by Christopher Lockheardt, which won the Creaky Award for best short play. Opening on a scene where a husband is stabbed by a knife and a stereotypical wife stands by, the opening line is "I see your point." As delivered by David Edge, the actor posesses all the dead-pan precision of Bob Newhart. The play is primarily conceived around the age-old men are from Mars/women are from Venus conflict, but with the stabbing wit (pun intended) of this playwright, it is an enjoyable and well-written comedic skit.
Although, this was certainly not life-changing theatre, it was inspiring to see so many local professionals and hobbyists working together to deveop and create new work. The Curtain Call Theatre should be acknowledged for their devotion to the work of Boston-area playwrights and the great feeling of community inspired bytheir evening of shorts.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your kind words about my play. Short play festivals have become an economical way for community theaters to showcase new writers, new directors, and new actors. If you'd like to get another taste, Theatre@First has a festival (in which my work is included) running the next two weekends.

- Chris Lockheardt