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Summer Harvest 2012

a 10-Minute Plays
by Onion Man

COMPANY : Onion Man Productions [WEBSITE]
VENUE : College Street Playhouse
ID# 4279

SHOWING : June 14, 2012 - June 24, 2012



"A collection of 10-minute plays by local playwrights that stroll through the open fields and looming woods of relationships."

Artistic Director Daniel Carter Brown

Birds of a Feather by Steve Pryor
Confessions at the End of the World by Jessica Alexander
Cruel History by James Beck
Eight, Nine, Ten, Shoot! by Michael Jared Tarver
Man Baby by Haley Rice
Runaway by Paige Steadman
Waiting for Leonard by Raymond Fast
Wake Up Call by Greg Fitzgerald

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Interesting Fare
by playgoer
Monday, July 16, 2012
Onion Man Productions' annual Summer Harvest of ten-minute plays has yielded another crop of interesting short plays. None come across as totally glib or shallow. There's a lot of comedy, but there's also a good deal of human insight.

The first play, Greg Fitzgerald's "Wake Up Call," is perhaps the sketchiest of the lot. A couple awaken in a park after drunken revels, and the man is forced to reflect on his upcoming wedding -- to a woman who is NOT the one he's woken up beside. Amy Cain has directed the proceedings at a leisurely pace, and the situation is sparked only by the sharp comic timing of James Connor as a park maintenance man and by the gorgeous wedding gown worn by Mary Saville.

"Fair Maiden," by Daniel Carter Brown, is performed in five parts across the two acts. It's a sweet fairy tale of a story, with a bewitched maiden in a forest clearing being courted simultaneously by a valorous knight and a modern-day geek. Corinna Rezzelle is suitably enchanting as the maiden, and Daniel Carter Brown (as the knight) and Chris Schulz (as the geek) support her ably. While the action plays out over a period of time, splitting it into five segments does not do it any favors.

"Birds of a Feather," by Steve Pryor, is a comic gloss on the situation of a woman changing her affections from one unsuitable man to another, unsuitable in an entirely different way. It's cute and sweet, with a nice performance by the apple-cheeked Erin Barr-Smith as an avid birdwatcher.

Jessica Alexander's "Confessions at the End of the World" is probably the most successful of the playlets. Ms. Alexander has plotted a doomsday meeting between two married couples, each with an interesting set of character quirks, with bombshell revelations piling up to comic effect. The crackerjack timing and delivery of Joe McLaughlin give the most laughs, but Mary Shaw gets almost as many as a middle-aged hippie sort, and Deb McLaughlin and Mike Yow as their more uptight spouses get their share of laughs too. It's just the right length, building up to a satisfying conclusion. Judith Beasley's direction makes the most of the material.

The first act ends with "Eight, Nine, Ten, Shoot!" by Michael Jared Tarver (who also plays an energetic Roger in "Birds of a Feather"). Its Wild West setup doesn't mesh with the artwork carried onstage as the plunder from a successful robbery, and it doesn't seem that director Kati Grace Morton has been able to translate what is probably an entertaining read to a consistently entertaining performance. It doesn't help that the width of the stage doesn't match the ten paces on each side that the script calls for.

Act two's "Runaway," by Paige Steadman, stars Tara Chiusano as an insecure runaway. Her opening monologue is well performed, but things really liven up when Patrick S. Young bounds onstage as a high-spirited dog. His performance hits all the right marks, with Lory Cox's more sedate dog working in nice counterpoint to drive the story forward. Director Kevin Kincheloe has done a fine job with the material.

"Waiting for Leonard," by Raymond Fast, is the most heartfelt of the plays. Director Charles Hannum has coaxed strong performances out of Sarah Keyes Chang, as a mother working through a separation, and Jane Bass, as an old woman obsessed with the memory of her husband, lost in the Korean War. The sentimental ending works well, with Rick Perera giving a more assured performance than he does in "Birds of a Feather."

James Beck's "Cruel History" works primarily on the basis of a nice performance by Kati Grace Morton as a sun-worshipping young woman confronted with an unpleasant high school memory. "Man Baby," on the other hand, works on the basis of all elements. Author Haley Rice has devised a story that skirts the bounds of good taste and sexual normality, and director James Beck has brought it to life with memorable performances. It's a hoot.

Lighting, by Daniel Carter Brown, works well to light the set and action. Walls are angled on either side, limiting the playing area, and scenic painting by Rebecca Damren gives a somewhat claustrophobic feel to the proceedings, with mottled green at the bottom for a static horizon line and unrealistic clouds above. A set of replaceable panels upstage center are supposed to give a new perspective to each playlet, but they are crudely painted, disruptive, and ineffective. The ledge used for placing them interrupts the plane of the walls, as does some other placement of flats. Luckily, the action occurring in front of the flats is much more nuanced, seamless, and entertaining than they are.


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