Which Productions Should You See at the Festival of Independent Theatres?
by Lance Lusk
July 25, 2011
Looking to catch a performance at the Festival of Independent Theaters? Here is our guide and all the reviews.
WingSpan Theatre Company: A Perfect Analysis Given by a Parrot / The Loveliest Afternoon of the Year
Repeats: Thursday, July 28 at 8 p.m.; Saturday, July 30 at 5 p.m.; and Saturday, August 6 at 2 p.m.
One of the greatest things about well-crafted short plays is that they can be tiny, exciting snapshots of life. Wingspan Theatre Company shoots with both barrels in its double bill of Tennessee Williams’ A Perfect Analysis Given by a Parrot and John Guare’s The Loveliest Afternoon of the Year at the Festival of Independent Theatres at the Bath House Cultural Center.
Susan Sargeant directs the finely paired duo of plays with a madcap fervor that brings about their well-stocked highlights. A Perfect Analysis gives us a glimpse of two waning Southern Belles who find themselves separated from their convention group and end up in a dive bar. The girls about town – Bessie (a fulsome and fantastic Nancy Sherrard) and Flora (Cindee Mayfield Dobbs doing her best Dixie debutante) – resemble feisty inhabitants of Designing Women, especially as they begin sniping and nitpicking at each other with the precision of well-practiced socialites. It’s a tad more genteel than The Real Housewives of Atlanta, but just as juicy.
The action in The Loveliest Afternoon skews toward the peculiarin its depiction of two fledgling lovers who meet in a park and continue their wooing, but only on Sundays. She (a fresh and spunky Cara Reid) is young, pretty Ohio girl feeling the keen sting of loneliness in a new city. He (a Thom Pain mixed with Clark Kent Ben Bryant) is prone to spinning funny, “true” stories that relate to almost everything. This anything but predictable little love ditty caps off Wingspan’s satisfying twin features with charming spirit.
Upstart Productions: W.A.S.P.
Repeats: Thursday, July 28 at 8 p.m. and Saturday, August 6 at 8 p.m.
Every now and then, the universe is truly unfair with its allotments of talents to just one individual. It’s not enough that world famous comedian Steve Martin is already an actor, banjoist, lecturer, novelist, memoirist, screenwriter, and art historian, but he’s also a pretty darn good playwright too. Upstart Productions adds to Mr. Martin’s artistic oeuvre with its perfect portrait of twisted domesticity in WASP.
Director Josh Glover plays up the absurd in this wry skewering of 1950s ultra-Christian (hence the title) family life in the burbs, and allows his actors to transcend their roles, which could have just as easily settled into caricatures. There isn’t much plot to follow (even for a one-act), just wacky interludes like at dinner where we learn that Heaven is exactly “seventeen miles above the earth,” and a re-imagining of a Christmas morning as upper crust Brits complete with a butler (a workmanlike John M. Flores in three different roles).
The play is supposed to be big and inane to play up the hollow ludicrousness of that particular American dream, and the cast buys into their roles like gangbusters. Ted Wold as the Dad is a stalwart Creationist with all the “facts.” Sis and Son (Nicole Stewart and Christopher Eastland) slay as strange siblings. Diane Casey Box’s Mom shows the strain of maintaining the perfect suburban matriarch façade. Her mad smile is her armor as she stops down to converse with her Voice (Elizabeth Van Winkle) for life advice. It’s a bit of an over the top portrayal, yet it works in this petite, biting play.