Donate Now to Support KDHX

Listen Live
Tuesday, 08 April 2014 16:53

38th Humana Festival of New American Plays: 'Ten-Minute Plays'

Written by Chuck Lavazzi
Rate this item
(0 votes)

The Details

Julia Bynum and Jason Huff in "Winter Games"
Julia Bynum and Jason Huff in "Winter Games" actorstheatre.org / Tom Legoff

It may be trite to say that big things come in small packages, but as a description of this short (45 minute) trio of one-acts, it's also completely true.

The program opened with Rachel Bonds's charming slice of life vignette "Winter Games," directed by Pirronne Yousefzadeh. On an early winter morning in a small Pennsylvania town, bakery employee Mary (Julia Bynum) is smoking out back, waiting for the morning rush of customers. She's been up all night watching the winter Olympics and is grumpy as hell. She's joined by fellow employee Jamie (Jason Huff). He's well rested and a compulsive optimist. She seems to be just the opposite. But as they talk about the games and the feral cats that hang around the bakery, they soon find that they're not as different as Mary might have thought.

Will they become friends? Lovers? Who knows? The important thing is that they make a connection and that, in a ten-minute play, is enough. Ms. Bynum and Mr. Huff were utterly credible and comfortable in their characters and Ms. Yousefzadeh's minimalist direction served the piece well.

Next was Jason Gray Platt's one-actor play, "Some Prepared Remarks (A History in Speech)," directed by Les Waters. Bruce McKenzie is the protagonist, who takes us through his life—from an awkward child giving a report in front of class to an elderly man delivering a eulogy at his wife's funeral—using notes on pieces of paper. Brightly colored construction paper at the beginning, then index cards and small notes until, at the end, his life lies scattered in front of him. Like paper, Mr. Platt seems to be saying, our lives are fragile and easily swept away.

Mr. McKenzie's performance was a masterpiece of understatement, beautifully illuminating this often funny and heartbreakingly real script. His Parkinson's tremors at the end were, perhaps, a bit overdone, but by then he had so thoroughly inhabited this character that it hardly mattered.

The set concluded with Gregory Hischak's absurdly surreal "Poor Shem," in which three office workers—Kendel "a dominant male" (Andrew Garman), Kaitlin "a woman of easily diluted passions" (Jackie Chung), and Kyle "a less-dominant male" (Matthew Stadelmann)—discover that the paper jam in their copy machine contains not just 8-1/2 by 11 sheets but also (preposterously) the titular Shem. What should they do? Call the repairman? Call a priest? Hit "reset"? The only thing they all agree on is that it would be a bad idea to hit "print" again.

"Poor Shem" started out as a purely spoken word piece and I can see how its silly premise might work better as a radio play. Nevertheless this trio of actors and director Meredith McDonough had great fun with it, delivering exactly the quota of laughs the audience needed after the emotional depths of Mr. Platt's script.

I've been coming to Humana for four years now, but this was my first opportunity to catch the ten-minute play program. If this one was typical, I have apparently missed some good stuff.

Additional Info

Related Video

Video blog review by Chuck Lavazzi

Sponsor Message

Become a Sponsor

Find KDHX Online

KDHX on Instagram
KDHX on YouTube
KDHX on SoundCloud
KDHX on Facebook
KDHX on Twitter
KDHX on flickr

Local Artist Spotlight


Jah Orah and KD Assassin

Wed November 19

Durango

Sun October 26
Durango is a two-man band with a progressive, heavy rock sound. The band's latest album, "Technologigical Advances," is a concept album that is meant to be heard as a whole unit. To download a track from…

KDHX Recommends

December
Friday
05

Roscoe Mitchell and Craig Taborn

An internationally known musician, composer and innovator, Roscoe Mitchell began his distinguished career in the spirited 1960s of Chicago. NYC pianist and ECM recording artist, Craig Taborn, has remained a ubiquitous presence on the...


December
Thursday
11

KDHX Discovery Series: History of Psychedelia

The KDHX Discovery Series presents the "History of Psychedelia," with DJ valis. KDHX DJ, valis will take you on a multimedia journey through the annals of psychedelic musical history. The evening will feature a...


December
Sunday
14

88.1 KDHX Musical Merry-Go-Round welcomes Celia's Yuletide Express Secular Holid...

88.1 KDHX Musical Merry-Go-Round welcomes Celia's Yuletide Express Secular Holid... 88.1 KDHX Musical Merry-Go-Round welcomes Celia's Yuletide Express Secular Holiday Sing-along Sunday, December 14 at Noon. Tickets available online.  Toys, clothes, food and other gifts will be collected at the door for...


Get Answers!

If you have questions or need to contact KDHX, visit our answers portal at answers.kdhx.org.

Upcoming Events HAPPENING

Online Users

11 users and 6778 guests online
Sign in with Facebook

SYSTEM: S5 Box

Login/My Account

Sign in with Facebook