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24 Hour Theater: Quick, quirky and delightful
24 Hour Theater: Quick, quirky and delightful
Miryam Gordon - SGN A&E Writer

Eclectic Theater Company & Absurd Reality Theatre
Saturday, July 7
@ Center House Theater


Six writers, six directors and 25 actors got together one day and decided to put on some plays. The writers started writing at 8pm Friday night and by Saturday at 8pm, the directors and actors had scenery, modest costumery (is that a word?) and even memorized dialoguery to present to a supportive audience. Part of the allure of an event like this (the upcoming 14/48 [www.1448fest.com] presented July 13, 14, 20 and 21 at Capitol Hill Arts Center is seven writers, seven directors, actors and includes musicians and designers for 14 shows over a 48 hour period) is the sheer thrill of the unknown. Kind of like falling off an artistic cliff.

In events like these, there are bound to be moments you dislike, or are confused by or even hate, but wait a few minutes and there will be something else. Such was the experience at the Center House Theater on Saturday, July 7. There were six plays presented over the course of two hours. They were uneven, they were rough, but they were mostly quite funny, which makes the experiment go down easier.

Party Town USA was first up, written by Liziah Woods and directed by Marie Fredrickson. It was an intriguing little modern mystery about two couples trying to party hearty in Las Vegas, but one man has a problem he can't quite get over. His "issue" isn't quite clear, but the execution by the four actors was good and when it was over, we were left wondering what else might happen if it were longer. That makes for a success, if you want to see more of a play.

Disconnected, written by Beau Prichard and directed by Tanja Pineda, was a nice little vignette play with a guy feeling like no one connects with him until a waitress finally gets him to sit next to a woman who feels that way, too. It had so many little scenes that the tech person had a tough time figuring out when a scene was over or starting, but again, that's the nature of having thing technical like lights and music. It added to the disconnectedness.

21st Century Barbarian, written by Maridee Slater and directed by Dorothy Lemoult, was the most inscrutable of the evening. It seemed to be a seminar given by three people who were trying to help identify "barbarian" behavior and how to cope with it. There was a lot of slapstick and barbarian "language" which was then translated.

A Wild River, written by John Longenbaugh and directed by Brooke Cochran, was the most successful of the evening. It was extremely tightly acted and the premise was fun and startling: a Rolling Stone writer has been invited to the Vatican to interview the new Pope & who is a woman! Playing on that theme and how a woman ended up as a Catholic priest at all was mind-bendingly funny. If attending an event like this needs a payoff, this play made the evening entirely worth the adventure.

Love and a Pineapple, written by Brian Walton and directed by Linda Lombardi, gave new meaning to fruitful relationships as a young woman meets a man on a bus because the bag boy didn't double bag her pineapple and it fell through the bag. When she invites him home, he meets the grandfather who accuses him of molesting his fruit. Enough said.

The Summer of Saying Yes, written by Keri Healey and directed by Sean McEnaney, wrapped up the evening with the one actress telling two others as they apparently were taking yoga class that she might have met a man who could "be the one". He convinces her to date him by saying that he had made a pledge to spend the summer saying "yes" to things that were new or outside of his comfort zone. That's a lyrical concept that could certainly be developed into a longer play.

So, say "yes" to an adventuresome evening, sometime. 24 Hour Theater celebrated its third year, and presumably will have a fourth year, next July. 14/48 is the next two weekends (and presented twice a year) and makes no promises except that everyone will try very hard to do very well in only 48 hours of preparation. It's a bumpy ride, but most everyone goes to the amusement park and rides at least one rollercoaster, even when it makes your stomach a little queasy.

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