How do they do it? Stageworks/Hudson’s annual theatrical event “Play by Play,” a “festival of new one-act plays,” gets better every year. This review in no way intends to diminish the triumphs of years past, but this season’s crop of new plays, under the name “Rendezvous,” is truly the best ever.
Sharing directorial credits are John Sowle and Laura Margolis, the company’s artistic director. Her choices are always spunky and, more importantly, intelligent.
Eight new plays, none lasting more than 20 minutes or so, by eight playwrights are presented by four actors:, Clair Epstein, Steven Patterson, Louise Pillai and Christopher Smith. Three young actors, Aizzah Fatima, Lauren Heath and Damian Rossman, ably round out the cast. Each text involves a chance meeting or an unexpected interlude. Actors and directors handle each with wit and precision.
‘Play by Play: Rendezvous’
WHERE: Stageworks/Hudson, 41-A Cross St., Hudson
WHEN: Through July 15
HOW MUCH: $29 to $24
MORE INFO: (518) 822-9667 or www.stageworkshudson.org
“I’d Like to Know So Much Less About You,” by Hal Corley, centers on the meeting of an out-of-work mother (Pillai), desperate for the resources to care for her family, and a homeless man (Patterson). The mother is addicted to her cellphone, while the man claims he just wants to be left alone. He, however, cannot resist giving her some fashion tips and lengthy advice on her vocabulary while she is searching for a job. She calls him a “psycho stalker.” He calls himself “absolutely cursed with loquaciousness.”
“The God Particle,” by Christina Gorman, is a riveting discussion of the relationship of science and humanity.
“Quimper” is probably the best of the lot. Written sensitively by Michael Whistler, it examines the relationship of a passionate antiques lover (Patterson) to his acquisitions, in particular, a 19th century chamber pot made in Quimper (pronounced “Campere” by the French), France. Patterson’s ability to draw the audience into his amour for his collection is both touching and comic.
“Lonely Hearts Ventura,” by Kieron Barry, is in the “you can’t make this stuff up” category. The entire text is taken from the pages of “Missed Connections” of the Craigslist Website. It includes such quotes as “Love really is suicide; that’s why I got it tattooed on the top of my foot” and “His smell is still on me and, to tell you the truth, it’s making me sick.”
“Grave Shopping With Mama,” by Zach Udko, is a dark and funny exploration of a young man’s life as it is fashioned by his mother, who is convinced he is gay, though he denies it.
“Free,” by Karla Jennings, takes a look at the world of money and power through the eyes of a derelict (Patterson), a former CEO, and his former acolyte (Smith), who based his entire career on the former’s no-holds-barred greed.
“Sex and Commerce,” by Kim Sykes, is an academic look at the life of sex workers — and just how contented they are. A best-selling book on the subject is challenged by an activist social worker (Pillai) with a different point of view.
“Ask Me! Tell Me!,” by Andrew Charles Lark, is an ironic take on the question of “don’t ask, don’t tell.” The play is both comic and touching and affords its audience a real shocker of an ending both to the play and to this most enchanting evening of theater.