A Rotating Roster hands us quality Without a Net

Mario Claudio reviews
A play written for five characters, with five different teams went into rehearsal for Kristine Niven’s “Buried In Time“. The only difference was for one actor from each group would perform together and not with those in their rehearsal groups. This may seem like a recipe for disaster but actually becomes an endearing performance that is unique and crackling with potential.
Not since the current run of Israel Horowitz “Line” on 13th Street Rep, had I the opportunity to experience this type of rotating roster ensemble. Thankfully on May 6, I was able to experience a Without-A-Net production of “Buried In Time“. Set during current times at a Funeral Parlor where siblings Rusty and Charlotte (Josh Marcantel and Jennifer Laine Williams, respectfully) are in the middle of setting up the hall for their fathers service. They are accompanied by Bernie (Anna Ewing Bull), an eccentric former English Teacher and neighbor to Rusty and Charlotte, and the Funeral Parlor owner and former boyfriend of Charlotte, Zach (Travis Mitchell) with his niece, an upcoming Snap-chat phenom, Cassidy (Michelle Conti) rounded out the 7pm production. Where as the 9pm performance I sat in had Emmanuel Elpenord as “Rusty”, Irene Carroll as “Charlotte”, Liz Parish as “Bernie”, Jared Wilder as “Zach” with Michelle Conti pulling a double as “Cassidy” again.
Each actor was from a different team (summarily: Team Tetzlaff, Team Kane, Team Hilbe, Team Goldberg and Team Watson) for the 7pm production, but all the actors in the 9 pm were all from the Watson Team. The juxtaposition of these two performances was very evident during the course of their runs. While the 9pm group would be what anyone is accustomed to when seeing a standard play, with steady pacing and rehearsed precise movements. It’s the 7pm performance that intrigued me more, the uncertainty of what the other actors would do since they have not rehearsed with each other, helped the chaotic nervousness that would come in the given situation of a funeral.
The dynamic between Charlotte and Zach was more frayed and at times emotionally abrasive with more sense of loss between Josh and Jennifer. One can really feel the divide of the business woman/prodigal daughter against the attentive doting son. While the dynamic portrayed by Emmanuel and Irene was more subdued as if there was not as great of a divide. This gave the appearance that Charlotte visited and communicated much more then the context of the play conveys while Rusty appeared as a milquetoast with a sunny disposition. The same can be said with Anna and Liz as “Bernie”, both had the same eccentric aloofness with bouts of aspiration and musicality, but Anna was a bit motherly in her deliver, where as Liz was more of a quirky jovial Aunt. Just as well with Travis and Jared as “Zach”, Travis appeared apprehensive to go all the way in his characters emotional journey when seeing his High School love, Charlotte which could be the result of the randomizing nature of the performances.Where as Jared had the emotional gravitas that fit his characters story and the situation of the play. The only person that had little difference was Michelle Conti as “Cassidy”, her portrayal was the same for both performances which could be a testament to how grounded she was in who her character was and it worked very well.

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