Sunday, January 10, 2010

14/48 Festival: The Life You Knew

Saturday night's 14/48 Theater Festival plays on the theme "The Life You Knew" were, on the whole, a little stronger, with a bit higher energy, than those of Friday. Three of the seven plays stand out as particular favorites for Weisenheimer:

Jeff Becomes Her, written by Celene Ramadan and directed by Nicole Boyer Cochran, was a hoot and underscored at least one truth: Brandon Whitehead (at right) is a comic genius. Whitehead and Michael "Bama" Katt are brothers at their mother's funeral, lamenting that their estranged brother Jeff hasn't appeared. He finally does show, in the form of Lisa Viertel. Jeff is now "Ann" -- their mother's middle name. They don't find out about Jeff's sex change until after Katt's character has hit on his sister. Funny stuff!

Tyrone Brown scores again as director of Expecting Bobby (or Nicole), wirtten by Joy McCullough-Carranza. Morgan Rowe and Troy Fischnaller play expectant parents worried about how their child will turn out. Their fears are embodied by Jacob Sidney, a quick-costume-change artist who appears as a mewling infant, Barbie-playing girl, autographed-baseball-mutilating boy, and petulant teen. It affirms one's belief in non-procreation.

Angela DiMarco was great as a gun-wielding hit woman in The Guitar Case, written by Maggie Lee and directed by Opal Peachey. John Q. Smith was great as a fellow trigger man, Colleen Robertson shined as the barmaid, and Rob Burgess was a scream as the banjo-case-toting out-of-towner.

The rest of the shows had their moments. In Eggs of Green Daniel Arreola and Troy Lund discussed whether Babar was just an imperialist stooge. They had a great campfire, too. How'd they do that? In Sticky Monkeyflower writer Elizabeth Heffron and director Tammi Doyle created a surreal conflict between the "Nazi Horse Camp" and a neighboring household in which the costumers didn't have much to do with the male characters. Dawson Nichols' Deep Memory included a lot of self-referential 14/48 humor, as actor Alex Garnett talked of his darkest fears to shrink Kate Parker, and four other characters acted out those fears. Eventually the four storm off. Garnett got the most lines.

The only one that really didn't work for us was writer Paul Mullin's We're Not Talking. Like Mullin's offering from Friday, /me misses hyperbaric, it was heavy on words but short on action. In We're Not Talking all they did was talk. It's OK to have the characters move around a bit.

The band, again, was great. A special shout-out to Shawnmarie Stanton, who plays sax and harp, has great pipes, and looks good in a fedora.

There are 14 more world premiere plays to be seen next weekend. Don't miss 14/48!

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