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Playing the Game of Theater

Pink Banana’s One Act Plays

Jun. 11, 2013
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As Pink Banana Theatre Company celebrates its Ninth Annual Festival of One Act Plays, the thematic name of the game is, well, games. Make that “Game Night.” Seven short one acts, ranging from 12 to 20 minutes, fill the two hours (including a 15-minute intermission). And when the material fails to engage, the acting often keeps the audience interested, even during the shorter “games.” Witness Checkmate, a game of wits as much as chess, in which a young man queries an older gentleman as to why he comes to the park every day and sits in the same spot with the same book for years. Cassius Cox as the young man is quite engaging in peeling back the layers of Randall T. Anderson’s remorseful character, with both men changed by the meeting.

Ditto with local actress-playwright and director Angela Iannone’s Victorian-themed Tears, Or the Woman’s Defense. Are the two genteel women plotting a murder? Writing a murder mystery? Iannone has the audience guessing if the quiet, sensitive Jane (nicely played by Melanie Liebetrau) is really the “concubine” of the sinister Captain (Rob Maass in a brief but powerful appearance) who quickly comes across like he should be tarred and feathered rather then politely served a whiskey. Michelle Lynn Brien is a perfectly sumptuous grande dame, bringing the appropriate period sweep to Iannone’s perversely fascinating story.

There are a number of standout performances where the actors rise well above the material: Tim Palecek’s hilarious take on a would-be thug full of sensitivity in Put Ice on It; Harry Loeffler-Bell’s all-too-lifelike slacker-gamer ghost in Game Over; and Christopher Patnaude’s neurotic, annoying crosswalk rule enforcer in Walk, Don’t Walk. But it’s the final game of the evening that truly delights and captivates. Veteran one-act playwright Rich Orloff makes us crave summer even more with The Ultimate Battle for Total Control of the Entire Universe

As fellow Pink Bananans strew the stage with a colorful assortment of pool toys (just add water), Ashley (Samantha Martinson) and Jason (Peter Hiller) are pubescent “tweenagers” discovering themselves (and each other’s bodies) while they battle for total control in Jason’s backyard. The two actors look and play the parts so well, it’s as if we’re watching actual children at play, which is what makes this final “game” so much fun to watch. Now, summer anyone? Game on.

“Game Night” continues through June 15 at Next Act Theatre, 255 S. Water St. For more information or ticket reservations, visit pinkbananatheater.com.


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