An Evening of One Acts
nytheatre.com review by Martin Denton
June 8, 2011
Talk about diverse programming: this collection of three original one-acts contains work so different from each other that it's hard to imagine who the target audience might be. The bill is comprised of a performance art piece by Roi "Bubi" Escudero and her ETdC Projects Lab; a short romantic thriller by Christina Gorman; and a politically-minded work-in-progress musical by Marisol Tirelli Rivera and James Behr called Galileo (which, as a work-in-progress, is not reviewed here). The quality of the writing, direction, and performance is wildly variable, and the lack of cohesiveness was underlined, at least at the performance I attended, by the absence of a welcoming speech from the Planet Connections folk to introduce us to their Festivity and to this disjointed and oddly curated trio.
The opening entry, The Matra India, by Escudero, is itself a collage, consisting of an eponymous short play (adapted from a story by Augusto Patricio Gonzalez Novoa) preceded by a tango/video sequence and followed by a sketch called "Matinee." All three are interwoven around an Indian blanket that Escudero found on a Hopi reservation. The pieces concern themselves directly with the conquest and slaughter of Native Americans by Europeans from the 16th to 19th centuries, and the way that this was spun by mainstream culture subsequently (e.g., in cowboy movies and elsewhere). The piece also has some subtext, I think, contrasting two ways of making art—homemade work (like the blanket) that is both functional and fueled by a craftsperson's passion or love, versus mass-produced work (movies, TV) that is built for economic profit and consumption. The Matra India has a very DIY aesthetic, as is typical of all of Escudero's theatre work. It features Andy Chmelko, Mika Oyaizu, Alex Orzeck-Byrnes, and Escudero. A clearly heartfelt curtain speech by Escudero, explaining why this production is supporting the Children's Aid Society, added much to the proceedings.
The God Particle, by Gorman and directed by Joan Kane, follows. It takes place in Geneva, Switzerland, in the wintertime, outside a bar. A young man, Gavin, appears, vomiting up the results of having drunk too many shooters. He's soon joined by Izzy, the young woman he was trying to impress by drinking all that alchohol. They begin a mildly flirtatious conversation, mostly about what they are each doing in Switzerland: he's a graduate student working in a cutting-edge physics laboratory, studying the so-called "god particle," an elusive theoretical construct; she's here on a skiing vacation. Or is she? Gorman introduces some elements of international suspense that differentiate The God Particle from the youthful romantic comedy genre it otherwise resembles. Amanda Johnson and Jack Berenholtz are appealing in the play's two roles.