BWW Review: Theatre Artists Studio Presents RESISTING IRRELEVANCY: A QUIRKY COLLECTION OF QUICK COMEDIES
Debra Rich Gettleman has an incisive perspective on the human condition. In her latest work, she has translated her observations about the discordance and dilemmas of contemporary social behavior into a series of clever vignettes, all compiled into an evening of chuckle-filled entertainment entitled alliteratively, RESISTING IRRELEVANCY: A QUIRKY COLLECTION OF QUICK COMEDIES.
Gettleman's focus on relevance is a timely matter. It is quite worthy of probing and poking, especially as social media redefines, if not warps, the meaning of friendship; as tribalism exacerbates the concept of otherness and the practice of discrimination; and, as individuals, whether by virtue of their age, appearance, or manners, feel ignored, invisible, peripheral, or disconnected.
The joy of the COLLECTION lies in the distinctive angle by which each of the nine sketches satirize what might otherwise be downer situations. With an enlightened sense of wit and irony, Gettleman, in effect, elevates resisting irrelevancy as a wholly virtuous, courageous, and defiant act of self-affirmation and shines the spotlight on an assortment of unconventional ~ and, yes, quirky ~ heroes of the resistance.
The work of this versatile artist ~ playwright/actress/director/journalist ~ a long-time member of Theatre Artists Studio now plying her craft in Oklahoma, is receiving a deservedly warm welcome as colleagues from the collective (the full cast is listed below), directed by Richard Powers Hardt, portray conflicted characters confronting confusing conditions.
The range of themes is impressive and relatable. In BFF, a thirty-year-old promise of everlasting friendship is put to the test. In SWEET POTATOES, two friends in a restaurant are mystified as to why they are being ignored and denied service. In K.I.N.D., a woman frantically edits and re-edits her telephone greeting in order to send just the right message to those who may be calling. In Jimbo Juice 1 and 2, a frazzled Weight Watchers diet neurotic presses the need for real unadulterated, non-premixed juice.
In PRESBYOPIA, vision is an issue for an older couple dining out ~ whether it's the wife's bleak view of her future as an actress or their shared inability, because of farsightedness, to accurately read their menus (with delightful comical results) or the short-sightedness of the young self-absorbed waitress who serves them.
PERFECTLY FINE hones in on the efforts of three emergency responders to persuade a female driver that the damage from their rear-ending her is less severe than it is. In S.A.L.T., a meal is again the setting for a bizarre mismatch of preferences for seasoning fries. ROSE COLORED SPECTACLES sets the scene for a late-night soliloquy by an overwrought wife to her snoring spouse about the opportunity for a one-day-only free in vitro fertilization.
Each story takes a turn in an unexpected direction ~ with a peculiar witty twist that manages to accentuate the author's point but also requires restraint on the part of this reviewer from revealing too much of the tale and its final wag. Let it be notice enough that Ms. Gettleman has a knack for wrapping her stories with an abundance of humor and irony.
All told, this QUIRKY COLLECTION OF QUICK COMEDIES is a fun and eye-opening entertainment.
This review cannot be complete without mention of a highly imaginative and rib-tickling approach to the preshow chat, led by the charming Judy Lebeau with members of the cast pitching in. Truly, it's a mini-show in itself, setting the tone for what's to come and a delightful alternative to the starchy announcements in most theatres.
THE CAST: BFF (Angee Lewandowski, Patti Moran, Lee Powers); Sweet Potatoes (Dolores D'Amore, Goldsmith, Marcia Weinberg); K.I.N.D. (Meg Sprink); Jimbo Juice 1 and Jimbo Juice 2 (Kent Welborn, Heidi Haggerty Welborn); Presbyopia (Lee Powers, Patti Moran, Meg Sprink); Perfectly Fine (Lee Powers, Trevor Penzone, Kent Welborn, Heidi Haggerty Welborn); S.A.L.T. (Trevor Penzone, Angee Lewandowski); Rose Colored Spectacles (Karen Burns)
RESISTING IRRELEVANCY runs through September 1st at The Studio in Scottsdale, AZ.
Poster design credit to Michael Fleck
Theatre Artists Studio ~ www.thestudiophx.org ~ 602-765-0120 ~ 12406 N. Paradise Village Parkway East, Scottsdale, AZ