nytheatre.com review by Jo Ann Rosen
March 15, 2007
There is a hopeful sign in the air with the arrival of spring festivals. Emerging Artists Theatre kicks the season off with a three-part series of new one-act plays in the 8th Annual Spring EATFest, now at Theater Five in the heart of Times Square. In Series C, three playwrights and ten actors deliver a lively evening of entertainment.
Nothing is what it seems in Peter Snoad's satiric play, My Name is Art. In it Scott Klavan gives a nuanced performance of a man overly analytical and passionate about some empty Styrofoam boxes that pass as art. He receives his just comeuppance from a dull, outspoken hayseed, played with sharp edges by Andrea Alton, and a sleazy performance artist, played by Tim Intravia. The subject of modern art and its relevance is not new, but director Kelly Haydon keeps the performance polished and that goes a long way.
The second play is the longest and most ambitious. It is Kathleen Warnock's Some are People, a drama of three emotionally-wounded people who meet in Provincetown during the summer season. They all live under the same roof. Janice Mann plays Anna, the landlady and massage therapist. Mann carries her character's sadness around like a weight and her resigned strength is evident as she schleps her massage table wherever she goes. Brett Douglas demonstrates range and poignancy as the flamboyant and cheerful transvestite, Miss Fit, who sings in a club, and her melancholy counterpoint, Tommy. Douglas delivers a good deal of humor that sustains the other characters.
The role of Lydia, played by Karen Stanion, is perhaps the least focused. The responsibility for this can be shared by the playwright and the director, Mark Finley, although Finley does plumb both drama and wit. For Stanion's part, she hides her dark secret well. However, she is so lovely to look at that, at the end of the performance, I wondered if this character really works three jobs, really lives hand to mouth, really suffers the loss she describes. Some of this could easily be patched by costume, makeup, and posture. But other points can be attributed to this being an early production of a work-in-progress, one that could easily be a full length play. When Lydia spills her story in a monologue, the audience hits the ending far before Lydia gets there. It would be less predictable if it were shorter and more dramatic if hints of tragedy appeared earlier in the play. There are also inconsistencies. For example, why would a mother who has no interest in her granddaughter sue for her custody? This is important back story that has yet to be written. There is a lot of longing in this drama and much of it is manifested through the sexual attraction of one character for another. There should be more justification for Lydia's sexual ambiguity. While Warnock's play has bumps, it also has the most potential, because the characters are three-dimensional and interesting enough to warrant a polishing.
Finally, anyone who has called the New York Public Library for help in fact-finding will find One of the Great Ones, by playwright Chris Widney, delightful. Even if you haven't, you will. Jonathan Warman includes enough quirky details in his direction to make each character sparkle. Jane Altman, as the dedicated and obsessive librarian, lets nothing stand between her and her facts—not even her desk. Goading her on is Hank, the maintenance man, played with perfect drawl by Marc Castle. Ashley Green gives us an intimidated yet earnest librarian-in-the-making, while Vinnie Costa rounds out the cast as the unassuming employee seeking the final answer to a company scavenger hunt.
There is no intermission and none is needed for this hour and twenty minute evening. If you have time, stop by for a little fun.