It's not even spring yet, but Island Theater Workshop (ITW) is in full bloom, as they have been since 1968. "A Festival of One-Act Plays, 2008," is a showing of four one-act plays at the Katharine Cornell Theatre in Vineyard Haven. One-act plays are a bit like short stories - generally sculpted around one driving idea or conceit. While I won't give anything away, I will say that each play will surprise.
Two of the plays are directed by Lee Fierro. "Extensions" by Murray Schisgal stars the Island's own Leslie J. Stark, and Jessica Buckley in her first Island performance. They are both accomplished actors. Mr. Stark has been involved in many aspects of theater on the Island for a number of years, both as an actor and director. He knows what he is doing on the stage. Ms. Buckley also knows what to do on a stage, and I'll be disappointed if don't get to see more of her in future productions. The two work together well as an almost over the-hill-act waiting for their next call.
Ms. Fierro also directs poet Edna St. Vincent Millay's "Aria da Capo," which was first performed at the Provincetown Playhouse in 1919, directed by the author. Its three parts and its name suggests that it is based on the musical three-part form da capo aria. It is a take off on classic French dramatic comedy, sprinkled liberally with non-sequiturs, and a play within a play about the possible origins and problems of private property. Big issues for a short play, but the cast of five pulls it off. Oak Bluffs teacher Katharine Pilcher, in her first Island performance, plays a comically out of touch Columbine to Brad Austin's comically out of touch Pierrot. Xavier Powers (a man in black) is ominous as Cothurnus, who lords over the tragedy of the play within which is acted by May V. Oskan and first-time Island performer Adam Stilgoe. They work well together, bringing a serious focus to a rather outrageous piece.
Leslie J. Stark directs and acts opposite Islander and Children's Theatre alumna Talia Luening in the funny "This Seat Is Occupied," written by Susan Shafer and Ron Frankel. He is the almost-with-it train conductor who isn't much help when she gets stuck in the train's bathroom just before reaching her stop.
Kevin Ryan steps behind the curtain as director for only the second time. His production of "Domestic Violence" by Frederick Stroppel stars Islander Mike Gilman and Charter School teacher Treather Gassman. Not to give too much away, it comes off as a serious drama pitting Gilman's down in the dumps husband against Gassman's perfect wife. She's just too much for him. They are both superb tackling their meaty roles.
The show continues tomorrow, Friday, March 21, at 7:30 pm and at 3 and 7:30 pm on Saturday, March 22.