Inola M. McGuire recommends Two from the New…

The Review of
New York New Works Theatre Festival
The Elektra Theatre
300 West 43th Street, New York, NY
On Monday, August 17, 2015

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“La Gioconda” by Sean McGrath, directed by Justine Evyn Saliski; starring Brittany Goodwin and Nina Yvette Coleman.

The audience sees two women on stage in their own twin-size beds. One of the women is a Caucasian and the other is an African-American. Lisa, the Caucasian woman, wants to know the reason why her cellmate, Mona, is in prison. Lisa pushes her to open up and she tells her that she wants to get the truth from her. She doesn’t want Mona to lie to her. Mona being defensive tries not to answer Lisa’s question. Lisa continues her bombardment until Mona gives in, and she gives her a version of why she is incarcerated.

It was like a similar experience of the things the audience sees on television about life in prison for both men and women. Inmates manipulate their cellmates to find out pertinent information from them. In Lisa’s case, she bombards Mona with her jail-bait tactics until she opens up. Lisa’s “What did you do?” ploy works like a charm. Lisa tells Mona about the reason behind her incarceration. Mona begins to tell Lisa her version of events that led her into imprisonment. After Mona’s unloading of her information to Lisa, Lisa walks over to Mona. She gives her a hug and she passes her hand at Mona’s throat. Lisa then says to her, “I told you not to lie to me.”

The writer gets his message across to the audience because it was a déjà vu moment for the audience. A person incarcerated can’t trust his or her own family much less a stranger, cellmate, in prison. The prison environment creates full-grown criminals, and there is always an angle other than what the other person thinks, like in Mona’s case. Inmates have died in prison because of their talking too much about their convictions. One’s version of an event is not necessarily the truth. This play, “La Gioconda” is a real scared-straight performance that will enable theatre goers to avoid the penal system. I surely recommend this play as a must-see before the end of this theatre festival in September 2015.

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“The Flower Stand” by Robert Cooperman, directed by Robert Cooperman; starring Heather Cooperman and Robert Cooperman.

The audience sees Elisa on stage with her cart of flowers. She prepares the colorful bouquets of flowers, and she anticipates the arrival of a specific customer who patronizes her business on a regular basis. Mr. Goldberg enters the stage with the money in his hand, and Elisa takes it from him; and she gives him a bouquet of flowers.

Buying a bouquet of flowers is not a habitual thing for some people, but on stage Elisa knows who her usual customer is that frequent her business at the street corner. The audience sees Mr. Goldberg as he performs his daily routine at the flower stand. His persistence peeks Elisa’s curiosity and she inquires about his reason for buying the bouquet of flowers.

The writer gets his message across to the audience because it creates a moment of reflection in its mind. Nothing last forever, but receiving a bouquet of flowers can surely create a lasting memory of jubilation for the recipient. It is a good thing to reach out and touch someone with a bouquet of flowers during special and regular occasions.

In this society, people in the flowers business anticipate a large number of orders during Valentine’s Day, Father’s Day, Mother’s Day, Weddings, and Funerals. Occasionally, a birthday or a hospital stay may generate the purchase of an extra bouquet of flowers to the birthday boy or girl or the person trying to get well in the hospital. I will recommend the Flower Stand to theatre goers. It is a worthwhile play for the audience to feast on.

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