BWW Reviews: PICK OF THE VINE Showcases the Best 10-Minute Plays Submitted From Around the World
Over the last 12 years, the artistic team at San Pedro's Little Fish Theatre has undertaken an extensive process, this year selecting from over 600 submitted manuscripts from around the world to be included in their annual PICK OF THE VINE production. The nine plays selected this year are a theatrical sampling akin to flights of wine - delightful sips of comedy and drama that provide an opportunity to experience a wide range of unique stories in a single evening. Visions of loved ones, backyard battles, quirky salesmen, and pearly gate shenanigans are just a few of the eclectic themes in this year's selection.
The 2014 cast includes Holly Baker-Kreiswirth, Christina Desiere, Scott T. Finn, Rhiannon Franck-Thompson, Gloria Maxwell, Susie McCarthy, Gary Robbins, Perry Shields and Bill Wolski. This year, James Rice, Perry Shields and Danielle Ozymandias directed the plays with the husband-and-wife team of Holly Baker-Kreiswirth and Bill Wolski producing.
Death of a Sale, Man - By David Graham, Directed by James Rice
Featuring: Christina Desiere, Gary Robbins, Perry Shields, Bill Wolski
Those of us who have ever wandered around a used car lot arguing over which car to buy will get a kick out of Perry Shields' loathsome salesman, especially since he is more interested in the woman's physical attributes than selling his cars.
The Milkman - By MJ Halberstadt, Directed by Perry Shields
Featuring: Rhiannon Franck-Thompson, Scott T. Finn
Excellent truck driving sound effects enhance this touching tale of a young girl who has been led to believe the local milkman is her real father. And you will believe it too during their charming conversations as they ride around the neighborhood together.
The Button Pushers - By Ruben Carbajal, Directed by Perry Shields
Featuring: Holly Baker-Kreiswirth, Gary Robbins, Bill Wolski
In this game show like conundrum, a man and wife are given a choice: win $1 million by pushing a large red button, but in doing so a random person on the planet will die. Could you enjoy the money if you knew you had to kill someone to get it? There are no "Who Wants to be a Millionaire" lifelines to use in this game, much to the chagrin of Bill Wolski and Holly Baker-Kreiswirth who jump at the chance to push the button before realizing what it means to do so. .
A Million Times Over - By Molly Campbell, Directed by James Rice
Featuring: Scott T. Finn, Gloria Maxwell, Susie McCarthy
In this touching piece, wheelchair-bound Gloria Maxwell is visited by James (Finn), a young man (her long-gone husband) who brings her gifts representing memories from her past. It's a wonderful representation of how the mind may work to combat Alzheimer's and Maxwell literally shines as her memories return, much to the amazement of her nurse (McCarthy).
Two Minutes of Heroism - a One Minute Play - By Matt Hanf, Directed by Danielle Ozymandias
Featuring: Holly Baker-Kreiswirth, Christina Desiere, Rhiannon Franck-Thompson, Scott T. Finn, Susie McCarthy, Gary Robbins, Perry Shields, Bill Wolski
In this look at what ramifications will happen with any decision that is made, a gunman holds a group hostage as each weighs the pros and cons of what would happen if that person is selected to die, so who gets selected? I won't spoil the ending of this one!
Romeo & Juliet Act Vi - The Gloomiest Peace - By Ken Ferrigni, Directed by Danielle Ozymandias
Featuring: Susie McCarthy, Gary Robbins, Perry Shields, Bill Wolski
A brilliantly funny tribute to both Shakespeare's tale and the many "Law and Order" and "CSI" shows now on TV, with Verona being the new war zone. Investigators are called in to solve the murders of Romeo and Juliet with hysterical interviews conducted with the Nurse, the Apothecary, Benvolio, and Friar Lawrence. A tour-de-force for Susie McCarthy who plays several of the interviewees, including Romeo's pissed-off love Rosalind, the one he tossed aside after meeting Juliet. Trust me - you will never look at Friar Lawrence and the Nurse the same way ever again!
The Ultimate Battle For Total Control of the Entire Universe - By Rich Orloff, Directed by Perry Shields
Featuring: Rhiannon Franck-Thompson, Scott T. Finn, Susie McCarthy
Today the backyard - tomorrow the universe! Franck-Thompson and Finn are childhood friends in this touching tale about the effects of puberty on the fantasy world of young playmates using pool toys for weapons of mass destruction.
Obits - By Romney Humphrey, Directed by James Rice
Featuring: Holly Baker-Kreiswirth, Christina Desiere, Scott T. Finn, Gloria Maxwell, Susie McCarthy, Gary Robbins
Starting with a group discussion of how to write a good obituary and families arguing about how to represent loved ones after they are gone (kudos to Susie McCarthy's anger-building rant about her Aunt), this turns into the most touching piece of this year's selections with Gloria Maxwell reading her husband's self-written and previously unseen obituary at his funeral. It turns out to be a tribute to his wife, and Maxwell digs deep into her heart and soul to reveal her emotional reaction as she reads his words, often to the point of tears. Bring tissues for this one.
Man On Bridge With Book - By Stan Peal, Directed by James Rice
Featuring: Holly Baker-Kreiswirth, Christina Desiere, Rhiannon Franck-Thompson, Bill Wolski
Derrick (Wolski) is the man on the bridge with a book of test questions he gives to those wishing to enter. The questions are all difficult moral dilemmas which will have you asking yourself just how you would answer and whether or not you would be admitted.
This quirky and thought-provoking compilation continues through February 15 on Fri & Sat at 8pm with additional performances on Sunday 2/9 at 2PM, Wed 2/12 at 8PM, and Thurs 2/13 at 8pm at the 65-seat Little Fish Theatre located at 777 S. Centre Street in San Pedro. Some of the plays contain strong language and adult situations. All seats open seating except for season subscribers. Be advised there is no late seating.
PICK OF THE VINE has accumulated a loyal following and continues to sell out most performances, so don't wait to order your tickets online at www.littlefishtheatre.org, by calling 310-512-6030, or via text to 424-226-6030.
Photos by Mickey Elliot
Gary M. Robbins is warned by Perry Shields in DEATH OF A SALE, MAN by David Graham
Holly Baker Kreiswirth, Gary M. Robbins and Bill Wolski consider options in The Button Pushers, by Ruben Carbajal
Scott Finn and Gloria Maxwell share a sweet memory in A Million Times Over, by Molly Campbell
Susie McCarthy waxes poetic with Gary M. Robbins and Perry Shields in ROMEO AND JULIET ACT VI: THE GLOOMIEST PIECE by Kenn Ferrigni
Scott Finn and Rhiannon Franck-Thompson solve problems at the highest levels in The Ultimate Battle for Total Control of the Entire Universe, by Rich Orloff
Christina Desiere, Bill Wolski and Rhiannon Franck-Thompson negotiate afterlife reality in Man on Bridge with Book, by Stan Peal