Confetti Fest X
WHERE: Albany Masonic Hall, 67 Corning Place, Albany
WHEN: 2 p.m. today and Sunday, Oct. 12; 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday
HOW MUCH: $15
MORE INFO: 460-1167 or www.confettistage.org
The playbill for Confetti Fest X, Confetti Stage’s one-act play festival, lists bios of the writers, performers, directors and production crew, many of whom have won awards for their work, and past shows certainly attest to their fine contributions.
Unfortunately, this mounting of five original pieces is not, as they say, ready for prime time.
There were a number of instances on Friday when an audience talkback session might have been better, maybe after a workshop rendering of the plays, than the opening night of a two-week run. It may be safe to assume these are still works in progress, that the playwrights were involved in the tweaking process during rehearsals and that they might still be open to feedback. But such a session would have to allow for audience response to the sketchy acting, directing and production.
Stephen Henel’s “Paladina,” directed by Hollie L. Miller, begins shakily, with quirky (but, alas, not funny) dialogue between a TV newscaster, Kelly (a fine Vivian Hwang) and a superheroine, Paladina (Katrina Wilkinson). Stay with it, however, because about halfway through there’s a tonal shift, and the play goes in a thought-provoking direction as a cultural critique.
The seams in Marty Egan’s “Reunion,” directed by Barbara Davis-Dickman, show. What starts as potentially an interesting love story between Cathy (Linda Shirey) and Marilyn (Colleen Lovett, top-notch throughout the evening), is sidetracked by the appearance of Terri (Sheila O’Shea), a loud-mouthed character who might be fun in another play but serves here only as a plot device — and a lame and stereotypical one at that. The play doesn’t recover even after her departure.
Miller heads Phil Ginsburg’s “Anonymous, Anonymous,” an alternately amusing and touching take on self-help groups, replete with disguises, a hand puppet and an ironic name for the purported therapist — Dr. Walls. The acting is earnest and, at times, successful.
“Luc,” by Julie Demers, directed by John A. Nickles, is a clever and ultimately moving look at miscommunication and connectedness. Unfortunately, Nickles allows Stephen Henel to portray Mark as a buffoon for the first half. This is a shame because Lovett (speaking French only) plays Marie-Jeanne a realistic character throughout; thus, when the play deepens in the second half and Henel matches Lovett’s acting style, it screams out as a missed opportunity to do justice to the whole script.
Finally, Nate Beynon’s staging of “Fifth Step, Fourth Wall,” by the ubiquitous Stephen Henel, reminds of Tad Mosel’s “Impromptu” or Pirandello’s “Six Characters in Search of an Author,” plays that blur the line between illusion and reality, self-consciously so. Despite the fact that there is little consistency in acting styles and someone forgot lines Friday, the script itself held the audience’s attention in a charming sort of way.
Next up for Confetti Stage is “Waiting for Godot” in February 2015.