TOMMY ZANE GAYDAR EDITOR I just don’t know how they do it — 70 Fringe and Live Arts Festival performances packed into three weekends. This year was a better year at Fringe all around, with better organization and quality shows. I love theatre as much as anyone, but September is typically outside activity time, and tramp-it-up at the bars time, too. Still, I managed to see some performances.
“Java Drama,” three world premiere plays presented by Dragon Stage and Screen at site-specific performance space Doubleshots Espresso, led the pack of comedies. My fave of the three was “Next Year In Jerusalem,” written by Deborah Yarchun. Its Woody Allen-esque writing achieved great heights with Ivy League sarcasm and bitter dialogue. Matthias Paul Krick as Nat was particularly vicious in an all-around cutthroat first date gone wrong. Sarah Schol sufficiently plays Rachel with just enough vulnerability to offset Krick’s nastiness. Josh Hitchens’ direction superbly used the cafe space as a realistic backdrop against which the bitchy banter unfolds. The second play in the trio, “The Olive Branch” by Julia Curcio, effectively lifted spirits with a lighter-fared cultural comedy in which siblings arguing over what a disgrace the popular chain restaurant The Olive Garden is to Italian-Americans. “Java Drama” made excellent use of its unorthodox venue. Kudos to all involved!
Uncut Productions’ Assembly: Junior High, written and directed by Mark A. Dahl, brought camp and satire to a new level for this burgeoning, young group of talented performers. Assembly Music includes five student scare-tactic songs to keep the kids in line, including the borderline offensive “The Ability Song,” a wheelchair romp on joining in on fun activities even if you are handicapped. The parody meter was off the scale as these kids explore gay sex, a girl’s “time of the month,” and even terrorists in this tsk-tsk-fest of unbridled laughter. Crystal Whybark, Alexander Jordan and Paul Krick, (“Java Drama”) all turn in hysterical and worthwhile performances. Definitely not for the politically correct, Uncut Productions can add another feather to its ever-evolving cap.
Melanie Stewart Dance Theatre brings us an encore production of the 1996 favorite, “Claire.” Performed in the stunning Biello Martin Studio within a melange of assorted colored lights, fancy furnishments and other soothing trinkets, “Claire” is a “space for mystic enchantments where lovers call for spiritual guidance.” With musical accompaniment by composer Dan Martin, Janet Pilla plays the title role with a commanding confidence that exudes sex and catharsis in an unbridled manner. The movement is an exhilarating combination of dance and acting with subtle touches by Martin’s voice and piano. An exquisitely created fete, Melanie Stewart is at the top of her form with this ode to self love and realization.
Finally, a quick word on Bckseet Productions’ “Hung On A Ponytail An Act of Rock.” If you are all about MTV productions and cliched stories of guys getting fucked over by women, here’s the male chauvinistic piece for you. The actors sang and played live rock music extremely well — and did I mention they were adorable? There are some interesting plot twists and a surprise ending, but overall, this one’s for those who are still pining for the days when Creed packed stadiums. Why, 100, why!?
THREESOME OF THE WEEK
Tommy Zane’s sometime anti-boyfriend Ramon, turning 36 + Actress Faye Wray of the original King Kong would have turned 100 + “Match Game” regular and recently deceased fun gal, Brett Somers.
AXWELL: I Found U