The 17th edition of “Play by Play” is a seven-course meal expertly served up by directors Laura Margolis and Jeff Mousseau and five talented performers. You may like one course more than another, but your appetite for the salty and the sweet — as always with the offerings at this professional theater a mere 30 miles from Albany — will be satisfied.
Case in point: When the house lights went on at the end, the woman next to me declared the last piece “cute,” because the situation and dialogue were more “realistic” than those of the other plays. She was right. But those qualities of “The Introduction,” by Lucile Lichtblau (making her seventh appearance at this short-play festival), were precisely the reasons I didn’t rank the piece as highly as some others.
Lichtblau basically presents stereotypes (Jewish, in this case, but pick your ethnicity) of parent-child relationships. The broad playing of Kathryn Danielle, Buzz Roddy, Cliff Miller and Maggie Delgadillo does justice to the amusing script.
‘Play by Play: Unchained’
WHERE: Stageworks/Hudson, 41-A Cross St., Hudson
WHEN: Through June 23
HOW MUCH: $29-$24
MORE INFO: 822-9667, www.stageworkshudson.org
Earlier, two other playlets demonstrated the playwrights’ cleverness in coming up with a silly premise and running with it.
“Perspective,” by James McLindon, is a conversation between the Virgin Mary (Delgadillo) and the Angel Gabriel (Roddy), characters in a painting in the Louvre whose centuries-long lives are disrupted by the appearance of superstar “Mona Lisa.”
Mary’s nose is out of joint, while Gabriel thinks Mona is a hottie. The humor comes from the situation and the lines about art history that McLindon piles, one on top of the other.
Ditto “As You Loathe It,” Cathy Tempelsman’s take on an imaginary conversation — in verse, no less — among Shakespeare (Roddy), Christopher Marlowe (Miller) and John Webster (Danielle). Knowing something about Elizabethan theater will help you appreciate the wisecracks.
“Two Summer Evenings” by Jeff Carter has some affecting moments in its exploration of the effects of war (in this case the Vietnam War) on those who go and those who stay home. Ken Urban’s “Edgar & Patrick” is also a love story, in this case between a warring young tough and a “nerd” who discover that, together, they can unchain themselves from male sexual stereotypes.
One of my picks for the evening’s best is Kieron Barry’s “The Comfort of Your Own Home,” a series of three monologues by Danielle (quite wonderful here), Roddy and Suzy Kimball. The setting is “winter in the landscape of three lives.” Poignant, allusive, funny and true.
The other is “Deflating” by Hal Corley, a look at an unusual relationship between Vivian (Danielle) and Charlie (Miller) that keeps you interested by virtue of the quirky characters and dialogue that shifts between literal and metaphorical. If the plot’s unfolding is a little heavy-handed, the play is nevertheless absorbing.
All seven plays are superbly served by the tech team: George Veale (costumes), William J. Domack (lighting and set); Phil Elman (sound and tech); and Jennifer Dobies (stage management).
The rich theatrical season in these parts is upon us. Be sure to get to Hudson because an evening of one-act plays is rare and intriguing.