INOLA M. McGUIRE reviews:
John Chatterton’s Short Play Lab
Davenport Theatre, Black Box
244 West 54th Street, New York, NY
On Saturday, September 19th, 2015
The first performance of the evening is “Routine & Discipline” by Kris Ann Barbera, directed by Kris Ann Barbera; and starring Cassiopia Coyne.
The audience sees a woman measuring her waist line on stage. She speaks about looking her best, her intake for breakfast and her exercising routine and discipline. She anticipates a meeting with William, someone she met three days ago. It’s a three-day scenario beyond a one-night stand between two people. Everything has to be perfect in her life in a superficial manner.
The audience enjoys the performance as she continues with her banter. Her encounters with men generate a few highs and a few lows at the moment, and some of the mentioning of her actions was over-the-top behavior. Some of the men were too overwhelmed by her attentiveness without knowing the real purpose of her motivation.
The writer gets her message across to the audience. Both men and women have to be very careful with the people they encounter in casual relationships. One never knows what type of emotional baggage he or she is going to pick up in the form of a human being. One can always project a wholesome outlook from the outside, but there may be serious and disturbing flaws lurking on the inside. For example, an old house can look good from the outside, but the plumbing, wiring, and flooring are all bad on the inside. This play has a lot of potential.
The second performance of the evening is “Gut Level” by John Ladd, directed by Eric Leeb; and starring Liana Afuni, Tatiana Birenbaun, and Isabella Pacanins.
The performance begins with two actors on stage and the third one joins them. Their dialogues remind the audience of all of the goings-on in many communities in our society today like stop and frisk in urban cities. The gentrification of neighborhoods has become big business for real estates and construction companies. Homes were gutted and rebuilt to cater to a new clientele. Communities like Bushwick and Bedford Stuyvesant in Brooklyn are examples of this practice. The displacements of people from their communities where they called home for many decades are motivated by greed.
The writer gets his message across to the audience as it touches on all of the “isms” and “schisms” that exist in our society. The world is complicated, but one has to learn how to navigate for the good of humanity.
The third performance of the evening is “Queensboro Bridge” by Katarina Behrmann, directed by Katarina Behrmann; starring Kevin Broomfield and Katarina Behrmann.
The audience sees the performance of two people sharing a cab ride together during very slow traffic. It is an amazing opportunity where these two strangers enjoy each other company through conversation. The moment of bonding allows them to make the best of their time together.
The writer’s message speaks volume to the audience. It allows the audience to reflect on its own experience. This play has a lot of potential.
The fourth performance of the evening is “Ski and Ari” by Arthur W. French, directed by Arthur French; Kyle Carter and Kenya Wilson.
The audience sees two characters on the floor of the stage. They communicate with each other as to the reasons why they are on the floor. They realize their purpose! Lots of people are talking about it. People with social media accounts are writing about the shooting. Facebook and Twitter have provided the opportunity to their customers to voice their opinions after the shooting death of Trayvon Martin.
The writer’s message to the audience serves as a reminder that all lives are precious. Regardless of the victim’s race, religion or nationality; one doesn’t need to be gunned down in the manner in which Trayvon Martin was killed. Something good happened after the shooting. People of all ages and races were able to come together to protest in many American cities.
The fifth performance of the evening is “The List” by Ethan Ness, directed by Ethan Ness; starring Ethan Ness and Abbie Krentz.
The audience sees an argumentative couple on stage trying to settle its finances. The boyfriend looks at his list of itemized items. The lady reminds him of a $12.00 loan, and he tells her of an exorbitant amount that she owes him. Their back and forth conversation gives a new meaning to how low down a couple can get during a break up over money and other issues. The young man and the young woman try to outdo each other.
The itemized list in each of their minds demonstrates how diminutive one can become when things are not beneficial to him or her in a relationship. The couple shows the audience a combat of spirit between them. Their shenanigans force them to come to terms with their insane behavior. The couple makes up and kisses!
The message the writer tries to convey serves as a cautionary tale for the audience. It is a great idea to be able to afford oneself. During a new relationship, the good times are enjoyed between the couple; and favors are done without hesitation. When there is a turn in the relationship, all of the good deeds become a physical or an emotional list that goes through a review.
The sixth performance of the evening is “Morning of the Wedding” by Maia A. Matsushita, directed by Max Hunter; and starring Emma Orme.
The audience sees a young woman sleeping and her cell phone rings. She answers it! She searches for her dress. She gets dress and takes care of other personal things. She dials a telephone number and she continues to get ready for the wedding ceremony. The young woman wants to reach her doctor for emotional support, but there is no therapist on call. She talks to herself in the mirror, and she sits on the floor and calls her mother. She just wants to check in on her mother, but she refuses to mention her father’s wedding to her.
The writer wants the audience to get the message. The daughter remains the daughter regardless of how many times her father gets married to other women. A mother is always a mother despite the breakup of her marital status. People have to learn how to get along in spite of separation among adults.
The seventh performance of the evening is “Cab Girl” by Jamie Lerner, directed by Camie Gillespie; and staring Jamie Lerner.
The performance begins with a woman on the stage exercising, reading and drinking wine. The audience hears a voice over that contemplates on what she is going to wear. She opens the door for another friend to enter the stage. Voice over is heard again before she puts eye liner on the friend’s face.
As the performance persists, the actor interacts with another woman and she listens to her; the audience hears a voice over of the other woman’s mind. The actor resumes her routine with the disclosure of her life through a series of texts messaging excusing herself. She is woman with a mission and she wants to use her experience to change the world.
The writer’s message to the audience permeates the room. It shows that one has to get the facts before a conscious analysis can be made without prejudice. One can’t judge a book by its cover before the pages are read in order to gain an insight.
The Short Play Lab presented by John Chatterton deserves more recognition than it has gotten in the past. It is a great opportunity for playwrights to showcase their work through the auspices of John’s dedication to the theatre.