Town and Country Players, Buckingham, have some good potential directors for future shows as evidenced by the quality of the directing and performances at their annual One-act Play Festival this weekend. It is from this trio, the Board will decide who is ready to direct full length plays in the future.
As a result of these performances and others I have seen lately, I have a new appreciation for the writers, directors and actors of one-act plays. These three nuggets of cleverly crafted humor, were performed and directed well.
Sometimes audiences turn up their noses at seeing one-acts. Some people think they must see only well-known full-length plays or musicals. That is faulty thinking. Lots of playwrights hone their playwriting skills on short pieces of theatre before they go on to write award-winning scripts.
A full-length play could not sustain he humor of any of these three very funny comedy gems. An idea is developed quickly with fast exposition, quick conflict, and a slick denouement, all within about 15 or 20 minutes. Instead of a theme becoming tiresome, it develops quickly and ends appropriately leaving the audience laughing, satisfied, and wanting to see what is next.
Carol Burnett and other brilliant comedians knew that secret, and always kept the audience laughing with very short skits. Robert Anderson wrote a play comprised of four one-acts under one title: You Know I Can’t Hear You When the Water is Running! There are many other writers who have followed suit.
Additionally, many actors and directors prefer doing one act plays in community theatre because they offer less strenuous time commitments.
The evening opened with Babel’s in Arms, directed by Jonathan Knapp. Joseph Perignat, as Gorph, and Gene Petrucci as Cannapflit were hysterically funny in the leading roles. They worked together with great exaggeration, having to deliver lines sometimes comprised of gibberish. Both actors show their extensive stage experience in their timing.
They are supported well by John Demeter, Victoria Schulthels and Valerie Sharp, all lending to the humor their very serious portrayals of very exaggerated characters.
Do Not Collect Two Hundred Dollars is directed creatively by Ken Weigert. Four well known names from various eras of history gather to play – of all things – a game of Monopoly: Adolf Hitler, (John Demeter), Vladymir Lenin, (Joseph Perignat), Napoleon Bonaparte, (Andy Kind-Rubin), and writer James Joyce, (Tom McFarland.) It’s outlandish and outrageous: Hitler does not understand why he must “buy” property on the Monopoly Board when he can just take it; Bonaparte talks with his wife, Josephine, on a cell phone; Lenin tries to make sense of a game that is too capitalistic, and Joyce leaves the game table inspired by the conversation, to think about something he must write. The play is cleverly silly and funny while unbelievable.
The final one-act is The Wedding Story, directed by Kristin Baldino. There’s a story teller, Valerie Sharper, a bride and groom, Michelle Lewicki and John Neuman. Reading to unseen children, the storyteller tries to paint a picture of a happy couple, but she is rudely interrupted frequently by the annoyed bride and groom wanting the real story to be told. Exasperated, the storyteller relents, but changes the story to shows the sordid side of the couple’s relationship. Therein lies the humor! Well-done cast and director!
Town and Country member Andy McPhee produced the one act festival. Fred Conover Jr. was a capable stage manager.
The story lines of all the plays were funny and entertaining.
ONE ACT FESTIVAL
June 10 & 11, 2011
Town and Country Players
4158 York Road
Buckingham, PA 18912
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