Theater : Humor, drama in one act
The Island Theatre Workshop (ITW) will present its third annual One Act Play Festival over the next two weekends. This five-course dramatic sampler has a nice variety of tasty tidbits, combining old and new, comedy and drama. Three accomplished directors with very different approaches, five diverse choices of short material, and a slew of talented local actors make for a very entertaining evening of theater.
Photos by Ralph Stewart
The program opens with "Package Deal," directed by Kevin Ryan. This contemporary two-character comedy deals with the relationship between a Hollywood actress and her high-powered agent. Fast-talking, crude, and superficial to an extreme, the agent Cody is a classic Hollywood stereotype. Beebee Horowitz is convincingly manic, shallow, and altogether detestable in the role. Abigail Southard, playing the actress Starla, has a more nuanced character to contend with, and she handles the part admirably. The dynamics of the movie industry and the fickle nature of Hollywood are brought to light as the two women engage in a power struggle. Starla is primarily on the defensive, as Cody plays upon her weaknesses, until there's a bit of shuffling as to who has the upper hand.
ITW Artistic Director Lee Fierro directs Gerry Yukevich, Stephanie Burke, and Kevin Ryan in "Androcles and the Lion." The featurette to be presented is actually only the first scene, called the "Prologue" by playwright George Bernard Shaw. The story is familiar, based on the fable, but Shaw has added his own touch. Although the rest of the play is characteristic of Shaw's work - biting social commentary and an indictment of organized religion - the prologue is pure Shavian comedy and stands well on its own.
Mr. Yukevich comically portrays the meek, henpecked Androcles, who seems to have an easier time relating to animals than his difficult and demanding wife. Ms. Burke captures the shrewish "martyred" wife to perfection. However, without slighting either of these two accomplished actors, Mr. Ryan's lion truly steals the show.
Displaying both feline ferocity and human vulnerability in equal parts, Mr. Ryan hysterically captures the poor beast's suffering. The audience will no doubt get a good laugh from the lion's antics, as well as wince right along with him in empathy both to his wounded pride and his injured paw. The 10-minute prologue effectively sets up the character of Androcles as a man finding the jaws of the lion far less intimidating that the claws of his overbearing wife.
In "Loyalties," directed by Leslie J. Stark, a family get-together erupts into an intense argument between two men. A liberal and a conservative (Mark Shelton and Mr. Stark) find themselves in disagreement on a number of subjects, especially when the talk turns to the recent election, the climate, and the state of the economy. The men's wives (Jill Macy and Katharine Pilcher) end up embroiled in verbal warfare as well, revealing the dysfunctional nature of this particular family group. The surprise twist at the very end should not only catch the audience off-guard, but also enlighten them.