A series of one-act plays, which will conclude a two-week run this Friday, give us quick, yet insightful glimpses into human nature that cover a century of playwriting, as well as the span of life — beginning literally at conception. One of the plays, an original by an Island writer, features two bits of atomic egg and sperm cell matter.
From the first vignette focusing on a young woman facing career challenges, to a very funny scenario with two bickering senior citizens, the annual Island Theatre Workshop’s (ITW) One Act Play Festival is a highly entertaining and diverse evening of theater.
Two newcomers to the ITW stage – Cassidy Look and Karen Krowski — display some impressive acting chops. We will hopefully be seeing more of both women in future ITW productions.
Ms. Look takes the lead in the kick-off play “Sun Dried,” a coming-of-age snapshot written in 1912 by famed writer Edna Ferber. A plucky young woman tries hard to put a brave face to the world, despite a combination of homesickness, writer’s block, and the realization that both life in New York City and entrée into a career as a professional writer are daunting undertakings. The play also features Michael Gilman and Kevin Ryan, who also directed.
Ms. Look, a recent grad of Hofstra University’s drama program, proves herself a natural actor with excellent timing. The 2002 Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School graduate known for her powerful singing voice, also has a brief chance to display her considerable vocal talents.
The most intense of the plays, “The Reunion” by David Mamet, deals with an adult daughter confronting the alcoholic father who left the family when the daughter was just a baby. The very demanding role of the tough-as-nails father is taken on by ITW veteran George Ricci, while the more nuanced role of the daughter is handled admirably by Katrina Nevin, who is proving herself a fine young actress.
The play by the Pulitzer prize playwright and acclaimed screenwriter explores the complex emotions involved in desertion and disillusionment, and deals realistically with the destructiveness of addiction. The hard-hitting drama was directed by ITW artistic director Lee Fierro.
The one original play of the program was written and directed by former magazine publisher and 2006 Vineyard transplant Wayne Greenwell. In “The Big Bang: A Sexual Theory” two particles — Rob Myers and Jihan Ponti dressed in white hooded jumpsuits — are observed floating aimlessly in the nothingness that preceded the creation of the Universe. As they bounce off each other, both literally and verbally, they ultimately play out the battle of the sexes with humor, wit, and some clever existential badinage.
This is the second work of Mr. Greenwell’s to be produced by ITW. His short play, “Separation Tango,” was included in a series of plays by local authors two years ago. Mr. Greenwell has previously had plays produced in Seattle and off Broadway in New York, and has written two screenplays and a novel. Although they hardly sound like the stuff of comedy, the subjects of Mr. Greenwell’s plays range from racism to terrorism to dementia. He describes his style as dark humor.
The retired magazine publisher co-produces a series on MVTV that spotlights new plays by local writers and is developing a twice-a-month playwright’s workshop to be held at the ITW building in West Tisbury. Anyone interested in getting involved can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
Karen Krowski, who co-stars in the penultimate short play of the program, has also written and directed plays. While working as a school psychologist in Brockton, she produced a series of school plays, including one of her own. Ms. Krowski, who moved to the Vineyard recently, works part time as a bereavement counselor for Hospice of Martha’s Vineyard and has a healing practice called Steel Butterfly.
In “Lou Bitterman, Attorney at Law,” Ms. Krowski does a wonderful job portraying a working class woman. The short comedy features an unscrupulous ambulance chasing lawyer (Leslie J. Stark, who also directs) trying to deal with an accident victim client with a frustrating tendency to tell the truth.
Veteran actors Don Lyons and Lee Fierro team up once again for the closing play, “I’m Herbert.” The two old pros had the audience in stitches last Saturday night portraying an elderly couple whose attempts at reminiscence are thwarted by their not so reliable faculties of memory. It’s always a pleasure to watch these two actors, especially when they face off against each other as they previously did in ITW’s 2009 Oct Act Play Festival.
ITW One Act Festival, 7 pm, March 28, 29, 30, Katharine Cornell Theatre, Vineyard Haven. $15, discount with Our Island Club card.