SHOWING : May 28, 2015 - June 07, 2015
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Summer Harvest 2015, Inside Out - A collection of 10-minute plays that explore inside of attics and out on rooftops.
May 28th to June 7th
Thursday to Saturday at 7:30, Sunday at 3:00
Lionheart Theatre 10 College Street Norcross, GA 30071
Tickets $16, $14 senior (50+) or student
Jasper Alabaster and the Drano Disaster by Jeremy Clark
The Amber Light by Adelle Drahos
The Crackling Rainbow Comet by Laura King
Diaper Relay by Natasha Patel
Enraptured by David Allan Dodson
A Ghost for Myrtle by Daniel Carter Brown
How Penny Got Her Pep Back by Laura King
Love’s Letters Lost by Brenda Rawls
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As Good As It Gets|
Sunday, May 31, 2015 ||
Onion Man Productions’ "Inside Out" collection of 10-minute plays boasts as fine a set of spot-on performances and satisfying scripts as could reasonably be wished. Plays by seven writers have been directed by two directors (James Beck and Patrick Young) with a cast of 19 actors, some appearing in multiple plays. All the action takes place on a set designed/constructed by James Beck, Frani Geiger, Patrick Young, and Cathy Seith. This set portrays an attic containing a full-sized door and window, with scattered boxes and stored belongings, and with shingled roof segments downstage. The plays are all written to be performed in an attic and/or on a rooftop. Numerous props -- by a whole slew of people, including Janel Stover, Daniel Carter Brown, and the cast -- add to the proceedings, as do the costumes by James Beck, Patrick Young, and the cast. Gary White’s light design and James Beck’s sound design aren’t given an extreme workout, but work very well at enhancing the productions.|
The play’s the thing, though, and the finest play can suffer if poorly performed or poorly directed. Here, the direction is uniformly good and the performances leave little to be desired. Onion Man is giving the eight plays their full due in this production. It makes for a very enjoyable evening of entertainment.
The production begins with a portion of Jeremy Clark’s "Jasper Alabaster and the Drano Disaster," featuring the playwright and Erika Dee Ragsdale as husband and wife. He is a "Dukes of Hazzard" super-fan and she is devoted to her dog. They’re holed up in their attic, protecting themselves from zombie farm animals roaming the grounds. The first segment is basically a set-up and teaser; the play is split into four segments that go on to deepen the back story, explain the existence of the zombie creatures, and effect a rescue, with a cute ending twist. Its off-kilter humor and knockout performances really sell the piece.
Second up is Laura King’s "How Penny Got Her Pep Back." Ashley Cahill, Isabel De La Cruz, and Neme Ndolo play cheerleaders, with two friends attempting to cheer up Penny (Ms. Cahill) before a pep rally. Penny is depressed because of the losing streak of the school’s Horned Toads and a recent mishap with the school’s mascot. She has gone up to the roof to cry, to look at the ground far below, and to contemplate... Well, let’s just say that Patrick Young has a scene-stealing cameo just at the point when we think the plot might take a turn. The actresses are all natural and engaging, and the play ends on a happy note. It’s a delight.
"Love’s Letters Lost" shows up third. Brenda Rawls’ script places a married couple in an attic. The wife (Mary Claire Klooster) is searching for love letters from a former beau, but first comes across a stash addressed to her husband (Bob Smith). As they discuss these past relationships and their current marriage (and do a Sonny & Cher duet), we share their journey to renewed romance. Ms. Klooster and Mr. Smith are seasoned, engaging performers, and they sell the strong material. Another delight.
Another segment of "Jasper Alabaster and the Drano Disaster" follows, but it’s introduced by a cheer from "The Cheering Dead." This trio is the same set of cheerleaders from "How Penny Got Her Pep Back," only with zombie makeup. Their re-introduction as a lead-up to each of the remaining segments adds a light-hearted tone.
Act one continues with "The Amber Light," by Adelle Drahos. Jacobi Hollingshed plays Shamus, a knight existing in the imagination of author Adler (Janie Hitchcock). He refuses to perform a story-ending action envisioned by his author, and together they come up with an ending that satisfies them both. This is a sweetly conceived and wonderfully costumed piece, with the attic setting containing a stored childhood journal that provides the impetus for the new ending. The delights continue.
To close out act one comes David Allan Dodson’s "Enraptured." This requires the largest cast of the group, with Brother Joseph (Bob Smith) and his acolytes Rachel, Ruth, and Mary (Jillian Walzer, Linzmarie Schultz, and Celeste Campbell, respectively) on an isolated rooftop awaiting the end of the world. Isolated, that is, until an old fling of Rachel’s shows up. Elmorris Still plays this role with great good humor and terrific comic timing. The whole thing sparkles with comic fire, and every actor gets a chance to shine. I didn’t quite understand the final moment of the play, with its special lighting effect, but I believe it was meant to be slightly ironic and mystifying.
The second act doesn’t measure up to the first, but it’s still full of charm and entertainment. The act starts quite promisingly with Daniel Carter Brown’s "A Ghost for Myrtle," which sets up a situation where a former grocery cashier (Brooke Spivey) is living in the attic of a lonely store customer (Mary Claire Klooster), whose single father son (Jay Croft) confronts her for her ruse of pretending to be a ghost in order to get free lodging. It’s a nicely acted story with a sweet, sit-com-y ending.
After another segment of "Jasper Alabaster and the Drano Disaster" comes Natasha Patel’s "Diaper Relay," featuring Makayla Macklin and Jillian Walzer as sisters getting items for an unseen sister’s baby shower. What they’re doing in an attic isn’t clear; the special setting in a corner of the stage contains votive candles for no apparent reason. The actresses do very compelling work, but the material comes across as somewhat disjointed. It’s the first disappointment of the evening.
Before the final segment of "Jasper Alabaster and the Drano Disaster" closes the second act, we have Laura King’s "The Crackling Rainbow Comet." This two-hander pairs Adelle Drahos and Jamar Rivers as friends meeting on a roof to view a fireworks display. His viewpoint is that this is an occasion he’d like to share every year; her viewpoint is that it’s something she’s seen every year, and now she wants to move on. The dramatics of the work are achingly portrayed, but the piece as a whole has a simple trajectory from point A to point B. It’s sweet and poignant, but slightly insubstantial.
The directors of the evening can’t be praised enough. Patrick Young (director of "The Amber Light" and "The Crackling Rainbow Comet") and James Beck (director of everything else) have cast the shows with an appealing mix of actors and directed them to bring out their best qualities, blocking them to advantage and shaping the story arcs to make the plays shine. This is the best Summer Harvest festival yet.
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