Review: AN EVENING OF ONE ACTS at West End Players Guild

7 Short Plays Include Stories that are Romantically Sentimental, Satirically Hilarious, and Eerily Macabre

By: Feb. 19, 2024
Review: AN EVENING OF ONE ACTS at West End Players Guild
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Directors Carrie Phinney and Renee Sevier-Monsey selected 7 short plays for “AN EVENING OF ONE ACT PLAYS” presented by West End Players Guild. The entire program of stories, with the oldest being “A Sunny Morning” written in 1905, played more like a series of short vignettes. The chosen plays contained some warm and charming relationship stories, a few satires, and one with an unexpected macabre twist. Phinney and Sevier-Monsey's choices provided ample variety to make for an enjoyable evening of unique short tales.  

Actor Jane Abling bookended the program with her performances in two vastly different roles in “A Sunny Morning” and “There Goes the Neighborhood.” She showed significant range as an elderly woman remembering a young love, and as a busy body neighbor who is less-than-enthused with the hairdresser moving in next door. Abling showed the ability to flex between a sweet, charming, and loveable character to one who is judgmental, malicious, and violent. She was unrecognizable with her characterization in “There Goes the Neighborhood” after appearing a few times throughout some of the other plays. 

Amie Bossi and Mike DePope had significant chemistry as a couple in both “Post Its (Notes on a Marriage,)” and “Surprise.” It is not surprising to see these two professionals deliver memorable performances. Bossi was at her best when she was chewing scenery as a girlfriend irritated by her clairvoyant boyfriend of 3-weeks. Her over-the-top reactions served as the perfect set up for DePope’s perfectly paced jokes that were enhanced by his impeccable comedic timing. Their work in “Surprise” drew plenty of laughs from the audience. Their restrained work in “Post Its” showed a softer side of each of them as a nostalgic married couple walking through their life together. In “Post Its” DePope shined in his poignancy as a sentimental husband.  

The play that had the audience in stitches was “Controlling Interest,” as six adult actors inhabited the bodies of 9-year-old prepubescent boys and girls. The scene opens with four men meeting in an office setting. The title of the play and the juxtaposition of the workplace setting immediately set the farcical tone for this wacky screwball play. Each of the six actors in this scene had the opportunity to play it for big laughs with exaggerated line delivery and overplayed physical comedy. For the 10-minute duration, the audience howled and chuckled with unrestrained belly laughs. “Controlling Interest” was the best work of the program. Audience members proactively commented that “it was their favorite” as they were leaving the theatre. Kudos to John Riedy, Michael Monsey, Kurt Knoedelseder, Shawntay “Tay” Vaughn, Abling, and DePope for their unencumbered and fearless comedic turns.  

All 7 of the plays were tightly directed to create engaging and interesting storytelling using limited set pieces on a nearly empty stage. The transition between each show occurred quickly and seamlessly, and at no point was the audience left waiting for an extended set change. There is no doubt that the playwrights who penned these short plays would have been thrilled with the efforts of the entire company at West End Players Guild.