Theater : Eight ways to love at Playhouse
Over the last 14 years, The Vineyard Playhouse's producer/artistic director MJ Bruder Munafo has collaborated in a variety of ways with playwright Jon Lipsky of West Tisbury, who is also a drama professor at Boston University. Mr. Lipsky has written and directed plays performed at the Playhouse, and served as associate artistic director for a number of years. "Walking the Volcano, a Short Play Progression," in its premier at The Playhouse, is the first time Ms. Munafo has directed a full-length Jon Lipsky play.
It is a collection of eight short plays written by Mr. Lipsky over the course of eight years. "I never set out to make a progression of plays," he states in the program notes. "But after the second play I noticed that I seemed to be plowing the same ground with pieces that were about a certain kind of passionate, volatile relationship I recognize as endemic to those of us who came of age in the 60s."
Whether volatility is a trademark of all 60s relationships can certainly be questioned, Mr. Lipsky uses the device
effectively. The transition between pieces is made against a background of a Jefferson Airplane concert-like light show, and music from each of the periods is used as a defining characteristic of the respective times.
This show is simply staged: eight plays, four actors, an arsenal of wigs, and a wide range of characters. The Playhouse's consistently spectacular array of talent is evident in the cast of "Walking."
Playing multiple roles, the four actors really get to flex their skills. Actors Christian Pedersen and Heather Giradi attack the first four short plays with vigor. They are not afraid to take their characters over the top as the scenes move from a frivolous young couple in the lavatory of an airliner flying from Asia to the United States in 1964, to a news photographer and girlfriend surrounded by the hardcore reality of Vietnam circa 1968, to a 1973 music studio (yes, they can sing and play guitar), to a bar in the shadow of the Saratoga race track in 1979, where not even the drinks can smooth out their long ago maybe-we-should-have past.