Friday, April 24, 2009

Theater Review

One of the things I do in some of my life is review theater for the local newspaper, the Ashtabula Star Beacon. Here follows a recent review.

An Evening of One Acts
by Roger Smith

For those who enjoy short bursts of entertainment coupled with a variety of themes, the Ashtabula Arts Center is the place to visit this weekend. An extra added bonus to the evening is the production of two very well-written one act plays by local playwrights Ken Johnson and Clay Nielsen.

Up front: there is some foul language on stage during the evening, but the advertisement for the shows indicates ‘for mature audiences.’ That having been said, there are some extremely creative touches to the evening of theater. The interspersing of Ken Johnson’s play throughout the first act rather than having it acted all at once is imaginative in the writing as well as the direction.

A bit of “The Twilight Zone” with Rod Serling flashed through my mind as I watched Nielsen’s offering. The actors reveled in performing this delightful one act play.
Throughout the evening, there was a quality on the stage that befitted the experience of the cast; they were excellent from start to finish – and Nielsen’s entertaining one act benefited from that.

The themes of the six one-act plays are different in that they address different issues, but they are similar in that they all are related in how they affect people. Of particular interest to me was the treatise on how the coal miners in Appalachia were treated by the coal companies. Having grown up in Harlan, Kentucky where coal was ‘king,’ I understood exactly what Linda Fundis (soliloquist) was talking about in “The Cure.”

Steve Rhodes as the Walter Mitty type character in “Degas, C’est Moi” was nothing short of spectacular. His performance is worth the cost of the ticket. Chris Nappi as the would be suitor in the 5th of the six plays transformed himself right in front of audience eyes into a dozen different characters.

Mark Pendelton and Cathy Fasano gave performances that could well be the best they have done. Maureen Tanner and Fred Robsel were equally as entertaining in their respective roles. Meeghan Humphrey, in her cameo appearances, fit the bill.

This evening of One Acts is very entertaining, thought provoking, and wrenches laughter from every corner of the room. Perhaps it would behoove the Arts Center personnel to create a one-act play writing contest, winners to be performed at next year’s evening of one acts.
The show continues tonight and tomorrow night at 8:00, and Sunday afternoon at 3:00. Tickets may be reserved by phoning the box office of the Ashtabula Arts Center at 440-964-3396.

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