INOLA’S VIEW of the Midtown International Theatre Festival Part III

REVIEWS BY Inola M. McGuire

Body“The Body is a Legal Drug” by Daniel McNeill, directed by Albert Baker; starring MacKenzie Nehne, David C. Neal, Allison Threadgold, Mdivani Monroe, Chaz McCormack, Hank Fandel, Charlie Jhaye, and the actress known only as Harriet.

This play takes the audience on an emotional roller coaster ride. It covers a few issues in life that most people refuse to deal with on a regular basis. For starters, the audience sees a couple on stage and through their dialogues, it surmises that they are no longer together. Yet, Maureen wants to be rescued by her ex-husband, Nick, for two reasons. Of course, he refuses to become a father to her unborn child with more excuses than the law allowed as both of them drink heavily.

Maureen tells Nick all about her employment status, her living arrangement, and her roommate. After Maureen explains each detail of her current problems, Nick continues with his drinking as he reflects on his life at college and the people he encountered. By this time, Carleton enters and Maureen informs him about her guest. Shortly after, Jerry visits the apartment and she congratulates her brother on his upcoming nuptial. With total curiosity the audience finds out who will become an untraditional bride.

Before the apartment becomes too crowded, Nick receives a package from his friend. Murphy visits eventually and brings a gift, a rosary in a box, for Maureen. He explains his quest for God and his reason for not drinking. The audience’s emotional level moves closer to its highest climb, and before you know it, the other visitors are all on stage. Murphy signs over his property and money to Nick. Carleton’s fiancé, Nathan, shows up and Maureen reveals who is her baby’s daddy. Murphy’s girlfriend, Barbara, tries to persuade him to be with her without any luck. Jerry tries to comfort Barbara in the only way she know how.

Now, the last house guest shows up. She is Jerry and Carleton’s mother, Olivia. She has some explaining of her own to do. Her revelation throws a monkey wrench into the mix of things. The audience focuses on Olivia’s every word in her dialogue as she prepares to let the cat out of the bag. What do you know? Olivia questions Nathan about the places he has been and his favorite catch phrase, “The Body is a Legal Drug” before the audience realizes that Nathan and Carleton are father and son.
Nathan’s one-night stand surely came back to haunt him. Carleton on the other hand feels betrayed. He is beside himself. Jerry, Barbara and Nick decide to take a road trip. Murphy goes on his way to become a man of the cloth. Maureen and Nathan agree to become a couple for the sake of the unborn baby. It is a great play for theatre goers to see and they’re going to enjoy the ride of a life time from their seats before the conclusion of the festival on August 2, 2015.

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Six-actors“6 Actors in Search of a Character” by Edward Eriksson directed by Edward Eriksson; starring Nick Zale, Kimberly Pogorelis, Katrina Clairvoyant, Jonathan Palmiotti, Ceyoung Lee, Risa Del Angele, and Nolan Charles.

This play conveys the political intrigue that goes on throughout the rehearsal stage of a production. The audience sees actors on stage rehearsing their lines with the director, and the writer disrupts the run through on purpose. This disturbance changes the momentum of the practice. Despite the temporary annoyance, the actors continue to define their characters.

After the rehearsal on stage, the audience sees two actors in discussion why Asians actors are not getting more roles. Personal relationships within the cast impede on the group’s overall dynamics. The actors realize that they have to search within themselves for the character. The character has to come alive from the inner being of the person in the role of a particular character. A voice-over character sheds some light on the possibilities of finding a character by the performer.

The setting reminds the audience of the in-fighting and the power play with the creative personnel involved in a production. The director’s interpretation of the writer’s work may differ and this can create a certain amount of tension that jeopardizes the entire production. The writer’s message shows the audience the pitfalls of rehearsals in a production. A character’s role may be at the mercy of the director. The play highlights all of the elements of a production with its problems during rehearsal.
It is my opinion that the writer’s makes his point known to the audience from the performances of the actors through their dialogues. How or why one person can determine if a specific role should be typecast? This is a legitimate question, but the audience cannot tell the writer who should be the perfect character, person, for the role unless the plot is driven by a character of a specific race. Typecasting prevails for many reasons, and this is in the control of the writer if he or she directs his or her own work.

I recommend this play to theatre goers and non-theatre goers alike before the end of the festival on August 2, 2015.
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James-Judd“A Minor Midcareer Retrospect” by James Judd and directed by Maddie Saidenburg.

James elates the audience with his definition of the title of his show, and the reflection of his life in the past decades. However, his awkward encounters with celebrities galvanize his talent to be hilarious. He dissects his experiences in three acts with some amazing moments. Later, his telling of his blow-by-blow experiences in the state of New Hampshire culminates his one-man show to another level.

It is a must-see show for those people who are interested in what James has to say.

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unnamed“Fool’s Life” by David Doiashivli and the actors spoke in Kurtvelian, the language of the Republic of Georgia.

During the act, the entire audience I assumed spoke the Kurtvelian language with the exception of me. However, I paid close attention to what happens on the stage. The insert in my position was helpful and I was able to follow each scene on stage. The performance was enormous with classical music and sound effect, and it was a different experience for me so far.

All of the scenes were on point and the gestures among the actors were breath taking. The costumes reminded me of the Japanese culture. It is a great play! I recommend theatre goers to capitalize on the opportunity and see it before the festival ends on August 2, 2015.

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11695805_10153039528288873_1636800867971390396_n“Messages” by Matthew Gasda, directed by Christopher Carter Sanderson; starring Hannah Wolf, Jonathan Reed Wexler, Chelsea LeSage, and Leajoto Robinson.

This play begins with an arguing couple on stage. The audience gathers that there is something beneath the surface between both of them. Maisie wants Max to be seen and not heard in her presence, but he wants her to read a poem from a book. She complies but not without voicing her frustration of his forceful attitude. He wants more than a one-night fling with her, but Maisie feels guilty for stepping out on her boyfriend, David.

Emily enters the room and the atmosphere changes immediately. Max manages to leave without incident. Emily and Maisie get into a meaningless debate as each of them tries to convince the other about who should do what without destroying their friendship. Emily behaves as though she knows what is going on in Maisie’s love life with Brian without saying too much. Poor Maisie thinks Emily tries to capitalize on her pain as she tries to understand her as a roommate. Maisie pours out her soul to Emily about her sexual encounter with Max and how she feels about him. Maisie wants to pass Max over to Emily.

Maisie’s lack of self-confidence allows her to be ignorant of the fact that her roommate and her boyfriend have an on-going sexual relationship right under her nose. The audience realizes this fact when David confesses his love to Emily. He wants to take their relationship to another level. Emily refuses to agree to what David has to say. She doesn’t want to hurt Maisie’s feelings if the truth comes out. David waits for Maisie in the apartment. After Maisie enters the apartment, he acts very distant to her despite here effort to get to the bottom of his coldness towards her. David gives off mixed messages to Maisie for his duplicity of her trust and the affair with her roommate.

The writer gets his message across to the audience that one never knows what is going on around him or her. Jealousy and betrayal are the core issues that surround the characters in the play. It is one for theatre goers to see and learn from the experience on the stage before the end of the festival.

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