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Fall EATfest Series B: Deceiving Appearances

Emerging Artists Theatre is presenting their Spring EATfest 2007, a festival of 18 short plays.  The plays are broken down into three sets of six (upped from Spring EATfest's 9 plays).  I caught Series B (and I reviewed Series A earlier this week).

Series B includes: Clothes Encounter by David Almeida & Stephen J. Miller, directed by Nick Micozzi; Den of Iniquity by Patrick Gabridge, directed by Ian Streicher, assistant directed by Lindsay Joelle; Layout by Richard Ploetz, directed by Paul Adams; Lucky Day by Mark Lambeck, directed by Jonathan Warman; UnEmbalmed by Joe Byers, directed by Carter Inskeep; and Is That a Gun in Your Pocket? by Carol Mullen, directed by Ned Thorne.

Clothes Encounter is an adorable play about Lorna, a full-figured actress (Amy Bizjak) who goes to a nude beach on a whim and falls for Jason, a handsome guy she meets there (Bryan Kaplan).  They decide to meet for a second date, actually wearing clothes this time, but Lorna is appalled when Jason's clothing style is too extreme for her.  Almeida and Miller's script has a lot to say about judging by surfaces, presenting them in a novel way.  Bizjak and Kaplan are very funny and sweet, plus there's some tantalizing glimpses of flesh (hello, bootie!).

Den of Iniquity is a cute sketch, rather similar in tone to Woody Allen's short story "The Whore of Mensa". Gerald (William Reinking, also in Series A) goes to a house of ill repute to meet a madam (Jess Phillips) who can give him what he doesn't get at home- his writing fix.  His wife Maggie (the very funny Andrea Alton, who I also enjoyed in Spring's EATfest) shows up and catches him in flagrante inscribo.

Layout is full of sexual tension, but never quite goes anywhere.  Two coworkers, Megan (Laura Dillman) and Bart (Nick Ruggieri), are working late together on a magazine layout and begin to question if they're attracted to each other or not.  The actors are game, but the play is unwieldy.

Lucky Day is an amusing piece that takes place on a rooftop of an apartment building.  Whitney (Karen Stanion) is depressed and wants to be alone, when insomniac screaming theatre queen Sean (Wayne Henry) comes out to belt some Broadway showtunes.  Lambeck's script is very funny, though a bit too pat- the audience figured out the shocking twist several minutes before the characters did.  However, Stanion and Henry's performances are so strong and funny, it's hard to quibble.  I saw Stanion in Spring's EATfest, and she continues her excellent work here.  Henry is nothing short of hilarious as Sean, rattling off paragraphs and sidebars with machine-gun precision.

UnEmbalmed brings the room down for a bit with a somber meditation on death.  Mrs. Dockery (Jacqueline Sydney) is at a funeral home to see her son's corpse, when she is interrupted by Jerry (Tim Seib), who killed him in a drunk driving accident.  The Embalmer (Kamran Khan) addresses the audience, coolly informing us about embalming techniques in counterpoint to the dramatic story.  The script has a lot of emotional honesty, and the cast is up to the challenge, especially Syndey, who quivers with frightening intensity.

The last piece, Is That a Gun in Your Pocket?, was my favorite of the evening.  Carol Mullen's genius script is a howlingly funny black comedy: Adam (Desmond Dutcher) has made a foolish bet on American Idol and now owes several thousand dollars to the mob.  James (Jess Auer) is the no-nonsense hitman sent to collect the money or kill him.  Dutcher and Auer are simply sublime. Ned Thorne's direction is perfect, wringing laughs from something as simple as opening a door.

2007 Fall EATfest
The Grand Theatre (Producer's Club, 358 W 44th St, 3rd floor). Performances begin Tuesday, October 16th, 2007 and continue through Sunday November 4th, 2007.

Series A
Tuesdays and Fridays at 7 pm, Saturday at 2 pm
Series B
Wednesdays at 7 pm, and Saturdays at 8 pm, Sundays at 5 pm

Series C
Thursdays at 7 pm, Saturdays at 5 pm, and Sundays at 2 pm

Tickets are $18.00 and $10.00 with student ID. TDF accepted. For reservations, please call (212) 352-3101 or visit

1. Bryan Kaplan
, and
Amy Bizjak in "Clothes Encounter"
2. Desmond Dutcher and Jess Auer in "Is That a Gun in Your Pocket?"

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