Once again Stageworks/Hudson is presenting its annual smorgasbord of new short plays built on the theme of opposites. It’s a table of nine morsels served up by directors Billy Kimmel and Laura Margolis and a quartet of fine actors.
‘Play by Play’
WHERE: 440 Upstairs at Proctors, 440 State St., Schenectady
WHEN: through Oct. 26
HOW MUCH: $26
MORE INFO: 346-6204
For only $26 you can sample a variety of appetizers and desserts — no main courses here — and at the end of two hours, you’ll be pleasantly full, if not completely satisfied. That’s the beauty of a buffet: you can point out exactly what you like and why you liked it.
Me? A few were tasty from start to finish; the rest lost their savor partway through; but all were worth the first bite.
Selected from about 100 scripts, these pieces, each lasting from 10 to 15 minutes, were arranged well: remember, presentation is all. The sweet alternated with the salty, and the complex nicely complemented the simple. They were connected by music that aptly set up the next scene, thanks to Phil Elman’s clever sound design.
Take “Car Talk,” by Lucile Lichtblau, for example. Preceded by The Beatles’ “Baby, You Can Drive My Car,” the tale of old marrieds Ed (Eddie Allen) and Marie (Eileen Schuyler) on a road trip to visit their gay daughter is accessible because of the typical marital bickering, but not altogether familiar because of the contemporary subject matter. (This play, by the way, was the favorite of a woman I met on the way out, whose husband proclaimed the entire matinee a delightful afternoon. I like such feedback!)
The opening work, “Old Prices,” by Jesse Waldinger, with music by Elgar, was like a 19th-century version of “Noises Off”; that is, the backstage squabbling at Covent Garden of Mr. Kemble (David Tass), Mrs. Siddons (Eileen Schuyler), and Fanny (Myleah Misenheimer) in the middle of a performance of “Coriolanus” was a funny look at show biz, with emphasis on the biz. Not a lot of discussion of art for art’s sake!
“I’m Barbara Eden,” by Michael Whistler, gave the excellent Allen a funny and touching monologue that, finally, gave up on itself. Despite a good effort from Tass and Misenheimer, the amusing premise of “Valentine’s Play” became predictable. “Plea” had a few tangy Absurdist moments; “Racked” seemed like an interesting premise for a longer play about a dysfunctional family; “Right for a Dog” left a few questions unanswered, but not annoyingly so; “Love in Litigation” was light as meringue, but the work of the doe-eyed Schuyler and the agitated Allen burnished the peaks; and because our son has just had a kidney transplant, I was particularly moved by the stimulating issues raised by James Farrell’s “Transplant.”
Margolis and Kimmel have been aided by the imaginative efforts of Frank Den Danto III (lighting), Jennifer Schilanksy (stage management), Janet Sussman & Deepsikha Chatterjee (costumes), and Mark Dalton (dramaturge).