Donate Now to Support KDHX

Listen Live
Tuesday, 08 April 2014 17:53

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


Dad Jr: Get Down. Hard.

Sun June 29

Graham Pagano

Mon June 23
Graham Pagano's debut album Quit Complaining is a high charged mix of old and new music. his old blues and classic country feel blended up with a rock and roll attitude makes this stripped down album explode…

KDHX Recommends

July
Saturday
26

Genevieve at Harvest Sessions 2014

Genevieve at Harvest Sessions 2014 Harvest Sessions welcomes Genevieve -- featuring Rebecca Ryan and Leslie Sanazaro -- to the West Pool Pavilion for a morning of acoustic music. This free Saturday morning concert series takes place at the Tower Grove Farmers'...


July
Sunday
27

88.1 KDHX Musical Merry-Go-Round Welcomes Sugar Free All-Stars

88.1 KDHX Musical Merry-Go-Round Welcomes Sugar Free All-Stars 88.1 KDHX Musical Merry-Go-Round welcomes Sugar Free All-Stars for a family matinee Sunday, July 27 at Noon. Kids under two are free. $8 advance tickets on sale now. Tickets available at the door for $10. Kids under two are free. For...


July
Thursday
31

Bradford Lee Folk & The Bluegrass Playboys

Bradford Lee Folk & The Bluegrass Playboys KDHX presents Bradford Lee Folk & The Bluegrass Playboys at The Stage, July 31 at 8pm. Tickets available online.   Born in Louisiana and raised in Missouri, Folk remembers watching his Dad pick the country blues on a...


Get Answers!

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

Online Users

9 users and 11072 guests online
Sign in with Facebook

SYSTEM: S5 Box

Login/My Account

Sign in with Facebook