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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, January 13, 2012 - Volume 40 Issue 02
Wackiness abounds at the winter 2012 14/48
Arts & Entertainment
ALL STORIES
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Wackiness abounds at the winter 2012 14/48

by Miryam Gordon - SGN A&E Writer

14/48
ACT Theatre
Through January 14


It's 14/48 time again. That wacky bi-annual time of year when seven writers write seven plays overnight (after getting handed a theme of someone else's choosing) and seven directors and a bunch of actors put 'em on the next evening. There are two more evenings this weekend to attend before you have to wait until summer. Luckily, each evening (Friday and Saturday), there are two shows, at 8 and 10:30 p.m. So you can have a late dinner and still get to see a wild, anything-goes theatrical event made up on the spot. And remember, if you don't like one, 10 minutes later, there'll be another!

Last Friday, a theme of 'delicious indiscretions' was pulled out of the ice cream cone and seven writers went home to toil away overnight. As themes go, it sounded like one that could go in many directions, which is good for an event like this. Saturday night, the audience assembled and was treated to what appeared to be an original song composed just for the theme by the 14/48 Band. Yup, there's a band for support, this time featuring singers Ben Harris and Shawnmarie Stanton. They also provide sound effects and various other additions.

The first offering was The Lighthouse Keeper by Juliet Waller-Pruzan. It was a sort of fairytale in which little 4-year-olds were asked to choose their professions and were essentially stuck with their choices the rest of their lives. But the Lighthouse Keeper, who wanted to stop doing the job, found a loophole, since she was an abandoned child and didn't have the ability to be properly guided by her parents in her job choice. But she (Samie Detzer) faced a huge hurdle. She had to locate her missing parents, who had taken to sea to practice whale dentistry (yup, whale dentistry), and bring them back home! The fake boat they wandered around the audience in was pretty funny. But the connection to the night's theme? That's a hard one to figure out.

Desperately Seeking Rita was by noted playwright Stephanie Timm, who chose to leave sober playwriting for another time. Here, three derelicts find themselves whining about losing the same Rita. They all decide to go find her to make her choose one of them and the journey takes little cut-out taxis and trains and planes and a bunch of identity signs around Ryan Higgins' neck to get to where Rita is supposed to be. They finally find Rita, who is apparently a cow. Rita appears to choose all of them, who then descend to suck on a set of balloon teats as the lights fade. Moo.

Cravings, by Doug Willott, was one of the most successful of the evening. An older diabetic man (Daniel Chercover) wants some candy his wife (Tonya Andrews) set out for the grandkids. He keeps trying to get a piece when she doesn't notice and she chides him and threatens him and eventually just takes the candy away. When he finally promises to have real self-control, she gives in and they have a moment of affectionate connection. Sweet.

An enigmatic piece by Eric Lane Barnes was entitled Faithful Voice. A first-person narrator (Kaleb Hagan Kerr) tells of joining with a religious performing group, a couple (Renata Friedman and Alexander Samuels) with whom he has strange chemistry. They sing in churches and travel together and eventually explore the delicious indiscretion of a sexual threesome. Suddenly, they are denounced from the pulpit and the married couple must leave. This is an instance of the kind of potential for a longer work that sometimes arises from an overnight writing session. The main confusion in the short piece, however, is why all three of them aren't rousted from the church and the narrator remains.

Gingerbread Girl by Daniel Tarker was a fairly silly piece about a Hansel-and-Gretel-like family (with an uncle) who get a magically created giant girl cookie to eat. The kids fight over the cookie until their uncle helps them make more giant human cookies, and then both the boy and girl want a girl cookie. Rhonda Soikowski (in a fun, candy-decorated brassiere) was the adorable cookie. Cute.

Quick Change by MJ Sieber was a backstage look at a lonely crew member (Libby Bernard), dressed in black, sitting patiently waiting to help with quick costume changes and resenting the actors in a children's play (Lisa Branham and Sam Hagen) for appearing not to appreciate their acting impact on the little children, and their focus on petty squabbles and sexual tensions. She gets the help of imaginary puppet friends to sort out her resentment, although they, too, begin to lose their innocent luster as they express adult disenchantment with theater and magic. A line I hope to have remembered correctly exemplifies some of the innie jokes: 'God made actors so prostitutes would feel better.'

The fun evening concluded with SHHHHHHH! by Celene Ramadan, with Aimee Bruneau and Sara Mountjoy-Pepka doing a 'meaningful theater' spoof, coming on stage in black, somberly intoning some kind of garbage very, very seriously, and a couple seating themselves in the audience late, loudly eating cellophane-bagged food, talking about their day and making out, while another audience plant shushes them over and over, until she's driven mad by their behavior and screams at them until she's removed by 'theater personnel.'

For more information, go to http://www.acttheatre.org/Tickets/OnStage/1448 or call 206-292-7676.

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