First Run Theatre, dedicated to bringing to life the work of local playwrights, delivers for our consideration two disparate one-acts in its current production of “An Evening of Predicaments” at the Thomas Hunter Theater at DeSmet High.
Gerry Mandel’s opus, "Open Sundays, All Makes Repaired", presents a poser most of us have dealt with: car trouble on a road trip. And we all know that problems usually don’t exist in a vacuum; like weeds, failure to deal with a problem often leads to a growth of others, including promises unkept. Patrick Conroy’s "The Predicament" illustrates how even those bent on the process of destruction must face the exigencies of planning and plotting carefully.
The value of these plays lies not just in their ability to make us think, but in the fact that they cause us to reflect on the importance of thinking itself. But without engaging characters and engaging dialogue, such a presentation would be little more than a philosophical diatribe. Fortunately, both plays deliver; we are introduced to a wonderful not-so-roguish gallery of good ol’ Irish boys trying to impress the local IRA and American northerners encountering not-so-typical southerners. Particularly in Conroy’s play, the repartee is raucous and infectious, but both give us pause.
I generally think of a predicament as a dangerous situation rather than a problem to solve or a design to draw up, so for that reason I felt that the theme of these plays deals more with challenges to human ingenuity rather than to basic predicaments, but both plays are entertaining and well-presented. Directors Donna Nelson ("Open Sundays") and Robert Beck ("The Predicament") have both created stagings that are visually appealing, thoughtful and not overdone. The scenery enhances the action onstage without stealing the show. Although I would like to see the actors focus a bit more on enunciation and projection, overall they do a superb job of negotiating the plethora of regional dialects needed for both plays.
All in all, “An Evening of Predicaments” offers an evening you’ll enjoy. The production continues at the Thomas Hunter Theater through January 20.