By Tulis McCall
This is one of my favorite festivals. It has that “Hey, my uncle owns a barn and we could put on the show THERE!” feeling to it. The plays are brief, the actors committed and the stage hands and designers are THE BEST. Sad to say that this crop of plays did not live up to past experiences.
And the very odd fact about this is that all of the plays had the nugget of a great idea at their core.
Wedding Bash features a newly minted married couple, Lonny and Dana (Donovan Mitchell, Rachel Napoleon) who think that theirs was the BEST destination EVER. They decide to share their afterglow with two friends who were at the wedding.
It is clear from the get go that the wedding gifts (Edi [Georgia Ximenes Lifter] gave them a $79 ladle that, although pitiful, will be featured. Alan (Andy Powers) gave them a Margaritaville blender which was appreciated ever so much more and promptly returned for the $300 cash.
Turns out the guests and the happy couple pretty much deserve one another. For as much as the Happy Couple does not appreciate the gifts given, neither Alan or Edi cared for the ceremony at all. Reason #1 was that the guests each had to shell out roughly $1000 for airfare, car and hotel. Reason #2 was that the event itself was, well, cheesy. Truths unravel and Alan think of a clever way to recoup his financial loss. No interest here.
A Woman takes place in a minister’s office of a presbyterian church. Cliff (Mark Boyett) is the new pastor and his parishioner Kim (Jennifer Ikeda) is a friend from high school. The vote for nominations for the congregation’s Elders are in, and one of them said “A Woman”. Cliff assumes, correctly, that this was Kim. Indeed it was, and it had been thus for 10 years. Cliff is a company man, and Kim challenges his defense that, “this will never happen.” They get into some milky badinage about rights and privileges and prejudices. Turns out Chris was unfamiliar with the Pankhurst sisters in England and was shocked to learn that Kim had been groped by a stranger. SHOCKED I tell you. No intrigue here.
Break Point takes place before the semi finals of an important tournament. Oliver (John Garrett Greer) and Stan (KeiLyn Durrel Jones) are old “friends” and colleagues who have not seen each other in a long time. Oliver has had a bazillion times more success than Stan, although not quite as much as he would like to think. The thing is, there is this match coming up between the two of them. Oliver think this warrants a conversation so that he can suss out where Stan is on this. Hopefully somewhere just outside of any court line would do. No surprise here.
What is surprising here is that with all the talent that is out there ready to submit a script or to jump on stage, this choice of plays and actors was the best that could be found. With the exception of KeiLyn Durrel Jones (who had an inner life brewing thank you) none of the performances were not credible. I don’t know the process for this festival, so perhaps the cast was short on rehearsal time. Who knows? In addition, the directors work did little to give these stories a leg up. Even Mr. LaBute seems to have been stymied by his own piece.
The only word that came to mind after seeing this part of the series was “sophomoric.” Better luck next year. I’m putting my foot down on that.
BREAK POINT written and directed by Neil LaBute
With John Garrett Greer and KeiLyn Durrel Jones
A WOMAN by Chris Cragin-Day, directed by Kel Haney
With Mark Boyett and Jennifer Ikeda
WEDDING BASH by Lindsey Kraft & Andrew Leeds, directed by J.J. Kandel
With Georgia Ximenes Lifsher, Donovan Mitchell, Rachel Napoleon, and Andy Powers
59E59 Theaters (Val Day, Artistic Director; Brian Beirne, Managing Director) is thrilled to welcome Throughline Artists (J.J. Kandel, Producing Artistic Director) with SUMMER SHORTS 2017 through Saturday, September 2. The general performance schedule is Tuesday – Thursday at 7:15 PM, Friday at 8:15 PM; Saturday at 2:15 PM and 8:15 PM; and Sunday at 3:15 PM & 7:15 PM. Please note, there are no matinee performances on Saturday, July 22; Sunday, July 23; or Saturday, July 29. 59E59 Theaters (59 East 59th Street, between Park and Madison Avenues). Single tickets are $25 ($17.50 for 59E59 Members). To purchase tickets, call Ticket Central at (212) 279-°©‐4200 or visit www.59e59.org. The “shamelessly clever and deeply satisfying” (New York Times) MORE summer staple
SUMMER SHORTS SERIES B Performance schedule: 7/29 at 8:15 PM; 7/30 at 7:15 PM; 8/1 at 7:15 PM; 8/2 at 7:15 PM; 8/3 at 7:15 PM; 8/4 at 8:15 PM; 8/5 at 8:15 PM; 8/6 at 3:15 PM (Opening); 8/10 at 7:15 PM; 8/11 at 8:15 PM; 8/12 at 2:15 PM; 8/13 at 7:15 PM; 8/15 at 7:15 PM; 8/16 at 7:15 PM; 8/19 at 8:15 PM; 8/20 at 3:15 PM; 8/24 at 7:15 PM; 8/25 at 8:15 PM; 8/26 at 2:15 PM; 8/27 at 7:15 PM; 8/29 at 7:15 PM; 8/30 at 7:15 PM; 9/2 at 2:15 PM and 8:15 PM Press Opening: Sunday, August 6 at 3:15 PM