In celebration of its tenth anniversary, Luna Theater Company presented the inaugural installment of its annual world premiere 10-Minute Play Festival. Led by Luna’s founder and producing artistic director Gregory Scott Campbell, the company selected ten entries from the more than 125 international submissions it received on the subject of IDENTITY CRISIS, in keeping with the compelling theme of its full-length 2011-12 season productions. With a total running time of 100 minutes, the ten shorts were concentrated, intense, and extremely entertaining, comprising a variety that offered something for everyone, yet, as a whole, maintained a cohesive focus.
Each piece was introduced by a video with its title and playwright in red letters, followed by life-size walking silhouettes of its cast members, projected upstage on a large white screen that served as the show’s backdrop. The boldly graphic high-tech intros (by video designer Michael Long) effectively set the post-modern tone for the plays, several of which used digital imagery and voice-overs, and all of which were au courant and very, very cool. This is the kind of new theater that should attract young audiences with its relevance and invigorate traditional patrons with its vitality.
Featuring a uniformly excellent ensemble of nine actors (Kate Black-Regan, Liam Brock, Mark Cairns, Jeremy Gable, Haley McCormick, Kirsten Quinn, Bob Schmidt, Megan Slater, and David Stanger) skillfully directed by Idiopathic Ridiculopathy Consortium’s Tina Brock, Bright Light Theatre Company’s Samantha Tower, and Luna’s own Gregory Scott Campbell, Aaron Oster, and Michael Durkin, the plays en masse explored the formation and transformation of personal identity through the absurdities and crises of modern life, from out-of-control violence and child abuse to issues of employment, lifestyles, and relationships. Whether disturbing drama, sci-fi/fantasy, dark humor, or romantic comedy, each work quickly and efficiently provoked thoughts about facing challenges and defining oneself in today’s world.
Among the most hilarious were Sean Christopher Lewis’s HOMESCHOOLING OF JONATHAN ANDERSON, considering the parenting skills of two ‘60s radicals attempting to indoctrinate their teenage son into the dogma of their revolutionary youth; Quinn D. Eli’s TELLTALE SIGNS, about a married couple whose shared hobby was mass murder and dismemberment until the husband’s fatal desire for career advancement and a life in the suburbs; and Jeremy Sony’s THE COSMONAUT IN HUMAN RESOURCES, an extended metaphor on the alien nature of corporate job interviews and being “marooned in space” by long-term unemployment.
Employing the most impressive technology was Alex Dremann’s SHELLY, a psychological thriller in which a man confronts his own guilty conscience (with David Stanger seamlessly playing opposite himself on video and live). And delightfully referencing the social transparency of our digital-age was Kate Brennan’s INBOX:EMPTY OR AIRPORT:SCANNING, about the awkward first encounter of two lonely singles at a gym, whose thoughts of what they should have said (versus what they nervously blurted out to each other) are seen on the screen behind them as instant messages.
If you missed it this time around, be sure to catch next year’s 10-MINUTE PLAY FESTIVAL—Luna’s exciting new tradition in Philadelphia theater.
IDENTITY CRISIS: 10-MINUTE PLAY FESTIVAL
May 30-June 3, 2012
Luna Theater Company
Playground @ The Adrienne Theatre
2030 Sansom Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103
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