Pillbox

One-act plays well worth attendance

aduate One-Acts in Wells Video Studio Theatre are hidden gems. Any theater fan deserves to see some of the 2004 season, which kicked off this past week. Most recently, Laura Konsin presented her versions of ?The Dying Gaul? and ?Throwing Your Voice,? while Dan Rigazzi offered ?The Bald Soprano.? Their efforts are to be applauded. Cramped into a small but attractive space, these two directors employed a ?theater in the round? setup that charmed and engrossed the audience.

The short series opens with ?The Dying Gaul,? a conversational piece between a screenwriter and a studio executive trying to negotiate a deal for the purchase of the screenwriter?s script. The plot points are structured around the hypocrisy of humankind. This theme comes to a head when the executive ? who the audience comes to realize is homosexual ? tells the screenwriter that his script about gay lovers will never sell.

In exploring the nuances of the characters and their individual quirks, Rich Dreher and Asher Arnold both hold their own. Dreher shines as the nervous, fidgety, George-Constanza-esque writer. His movements and reactions when he is not speaking make his performance indubitably realistic and satisfying. Arnold acts extremely well, but is not quite believable as the slick corporate executive. His best moments come with his softer lines to Dreher when the emotion between the two is apparent.

Konsin?s direction is superb. She has her actors make appropriate use of their square stage and play off each other?s lines quickly and crisply. The blocking is confident and involves all sides of the audience. Technically, the production is pulled off flawlessly, with appropriate touches of lighting and sound.

The main complaint one might have with this production is not the fault of the cast and crew, but of the script. Craig Lucas does not offer enough of any element, be it drama, comedy, or romance, to involve viewers in the story?s participants. Since one cannot blame the production team for the writer?s faults, this was a weak piece pulled off unbelievably by an incredibly skilled crew of young talent.

Konsin also directs the second showing of the event. This one is titled ?Throwing Your Voice.? The story of this piece has two young couples engaged in an existential argument about responsibility. Konsin has less work to do with her direction here, but she employs a table setup that plays to all sides of the audience. The elements of light and sound are also commendable and some of the sound choices in the finale prove to be almost too intense for the audience. They are, however, very chilling and appropriate. This scene?s content is also only mildly enjoyable, but again, credit this to Craig Lucas? choppy script writing and not to the cast and crew.

In fact, it is the acting that makes this piece. Rich Dreher and Asher Arnold return in two completely different roles. Dreher maintains his perfection from ?The Dying Gaul,? while Arnold steps up to present the audience with the most conflicted and haunting character in the piece. The two women playing in the scene are equally spectacular. Alex Wolfe, one of the few Enlgish majors among the actors, and Aim?e DeShayes embody their characters, and their reactions and movements add to their enormous success in the roles. It is wonderful acting.

The final piece of the presentation is Ionesco?s ?The Bald Soprano.? The story here is indescribable. Humor, drama, and even romance make their way into this script about a British couple in the suburbs, their unique nanny, confused friends, and highly erratic fire chief. The audience was collapsing in laughter throughout. Contrasted with Lucas? scripts, this story truly is the ?ax? of the one-acts. Like Konsin?s, Dan Rigazzi?s direction is confident and triumphant. He explores the space to its fullest potential by having characters run on and off stage, switch places in excess, and speak to all sides of the audience. The blocking scheme is skillful, and the maid?s direct narration to the audience captures the attention of everyone in the room.

The sounds of the clock and the light design set a perfect mood for the scene. Carl Wiemann and board operator Josh Brewer deserve to be commended, along with master electrician Maya Nigrosh and Jenna Laurenzo on deck crew.

The acting in this piece is unprecedented. Kersti Bryan and Dan Amboy?r play the quintessentially heavy-accented British couple, with the superb Jack Carpenter and ravishing Paloma Guzm?n bursting with equally impressive talent. Michelle Mulitz plays the most fun and bizarre character in Mary, the housemaid. She is strong, comical, and engaging. Finally, the fire chief, brilliantly acted by Paul Lindquist, must be congratulated on his mastery of language and memorization. The stories of the fire chief are too amazingly complex for belief.

Overall, the one-acts presented viewers with a very solid block of well-crafted material. While the Lucas scripts did not hit home, Konsin kept them engaging and Rigazzi?s vision of ?The Bald Soprano? concluded the event on a very high note. This type of entertainment deserves all of the recognition it can get. It is well worth going to support their effort.