BWW Reviews: ACT's Three Quirky ONE ACTS Feels Like One Too Many in Total
In my opinion One Act plays are an underutilized form in the theatrical world. Too short to take up an entire evening's entertainment and so they get overlooked. Thankfully ACT has chosen not to shy away from the form with their current offering, "An Evening of One Acts" and has even chosen works by some iconic American authors. And while the evening was loaded with quirky fun, two of the one acts felt as if they could have ended a few times over and ran a bit long. But let's start at the top.
Patter for the Floating Lady by Steve Martin
For the first offering they could have done much worse than a Steve Martin piece. In fact, for my money you can do much worse than an entire evening of Martin with his askew look at the world which always results in hilarity. In "Patter for the Floating Lady" a magician (David Foubert) explains to us his act and how it's sure to woo his love Angie (Jessica Skerritt) providing the mysterious interloping assistant (Hana Lass) doesn't get in the way. All three actors have a complete grasp on the comedic timing of the piece but also that quirky Martin style of talking about one thing but conveying something completely different. And it's this one that completely worked for me and get's a YAY from me with my three letter rating system. Unfortunately it went downhill from there.
Riverside Drive by Woody Allen
I don't think I've heard of too many people who are so so on Woody Allen. You either love him or you could do without him. And I'll admit I am in the latter category. His neurotic style just wears on me after awhile and becomes repetitive. Even so, "Riverside Drive" had quite a lot of clever patter not to mention some stunningly timed performances going for it which made it doable as we watch author Jim (Chris Ensweiler), attempt to deal with homeless man Fred (Eric Ray Anderson) as Fred attempts to extort money from Jim for Jim's new hit screenplay which Fred said he stole from his life. And to make matters worse, Jim is about to meet his mistress Barbara (Skerritt) to break it off with her and Fred is all too happy to help out. Again, nothing against the performers and in fact kudos to Ensweiler and Anderson for some amazingly lightning fast banter, but the play feels long winded like it ends a few times over making it work only half as well as its predecessor. For that I give it a MEH+.
The Unseen Hand by Sam Shepard
Here's where they lost me as Shepard's "The Unseen Hand" just felt pointless and quirky for quirky sake. Let's see if I can even explain it. Homeless drifter Blue (Anderson) encounters alien (outer space alien that is) refugee Willie (Lass) who enlists his help to coordinate a coup to retake his home world and free his people. And the two are joined by Blue's dead brothers Cisco and Sycamore (Foubert and Ensweiler) as well as a hysterical cheerleader (Quinn Armstrong) who's been hazed, whipped, pants and left on the side of the road by some rowdy footballers from his school. And the five of them attempt to device a highly cerebral plan to overthrow the Unseen Hand that controls Willie and his people. It's clever and somewhat interesting but quickly gets overly convoluted into its own quirkiness and again, feels like it ends several times over. Still nothing but admiration for the performances but even they can only do so much which is why this one gets a plain old MEH from me.
So when all is tallied up we have a YAY, a MEH+ and a MEH which I'll average into an overall MEH+ for the evening. And unfortunately for me the strongest started off the evening and you should always end on the best note.
"An Evening of One Acts" performs at ACT through August 10th. For tickets or information contact the ACT box office at 206-292-7676 or visit them online at www.acttheatre.org.