The second evening of the 2010 Elizabeth Boardmore One Act Play Festival, Sunday, March 21st, presented two very entertaining and different styles of plays. With one play being more of a dramatic and emotional piece and the other play being a full-fledged comedy, it was a night that had something for everyone at the Boardmore Playhouse.
Starting the night off was All My Love, Walter, which was written and directed by a new face to the One Act Play Festival, Kyle Capstick. This was Capstick’s first original play on the Boardmore stage. The story follows a character named Maria (played by Allison Cann), a young woman who struggles with her own identity and sexuality. This character has people in her life who she truly cares about, but who just seem to add to her frustrations of finding out who she is as a person. Maria’s mother (played by Karen DeAdder) is an alcoholic who has a lifetime of secrets regarding Maria’s real father and a life she left behind. And adding to the melting pot of emotions for Maria is her ex-boyfriend, Sam (played by Stephen McIssac). Sam still hides a great deal of feelings for Maria and is desperate to keep them in, or to find a way to make things work again. As this story is played out, and secrets are revealed, all of the characters realize that they are not only hiding from other people, but also from themselves.
When approaching a script such as this, there are a lot of challenges to overcome. When the director sits down with the actors, they all have to figure out a way to deliver this material without coming across as corny or over the top. Capstick and his cast handled this task very well. There were some very heavy themes in this play and the actors avoided the “eye rolling” moments that tend to pop up during shows like these. Allison Cann approached the role of Maria with all the energy possible. Cann flew from scene to scene, never letting her guard down. The only thing she may have wanted to watch out for was coming on too strong at times. When most of the scenes you are in are very emotional, an actor needs to find the different levels that need to be hit. If you are hitting one level too much, then it can start to wear thin on an audience. But this was a small issue in an overall wonderful and strong performance from Cann.
Karen DeAdder also had a great performance as the mother in this play. DeAdder brought a subtle charm and emotion to a character that really could have been over the top. There can be a very stereotypical delivery with a character like this, but DeAdder went in the opposite direction, almost playing the character as if the mother didn’t have the air left in her body to fight with. The only thing I would have liked to have seen from DeAdder was more volume. Even when a character is soft-spoken, the actor must still make their voice reach the very back of the room so the audience never misses a line. And alongside Cann and DeAdder was Stephen McIssac with his performance as Sam. McIssac really brought the right amount of energy and stage presence to this character and never missed a beat. Although McIssac may have fallen into the same trap as Cann with the emotion of the scenes, he still did a great job getting across everything the audience needed to know to feel for this heartbroken boy.
Capstick wrote a really nice piece here with All My Love, Walter. It was a fantastic first effort writing for this festival. This is a very difficult theme to tackle your first time. If Capstick decided to continue to work on this script, I think the number of scene changes can be cut. With the way the story unfolded, the plot could have been played in fewer settings. There wasn’t much need to bounce around too much from place to place. A play this length could be more centered to one set. The scenes that took place in the car with Maria and Sam didn’t seem to really point out a reason to even be in a car. It just added more set pieces to a show that didn’t require them.
With all that said, great job from the cast and crew of All My Love, Walter!
The second play of the night was Notte Del Partito, written and directed by Jenn Tubrett. This play was a laugh-out-loud comedy from start to finish. It opened up in two different bars. At one bar, on one side of the stage, was Adam (played by Walter Carey), his brother Jake (played by Ron Newcombe) and his friend Monty (played by Matthew Burke). It was Adam’s bachelor party and the boys were out on the town to celebrate. Celebrating the bachelorette party at the other bar, were his future wife, Eve (played by Lori Kelly), her sister Jane (played by Gena DiFlavio) and her friend Cecilia (played by Lindsay Thompson). As the night goes on, both parties get a little too drunk and a little too worried about the events taking place the next day. Both Adam and Eve start to wonder if they are making the right choice by walking down the aisle. As the story moves on, and the two parties meet by chance at the end of the play, we realize that sometimes people can be happy being miserable together.
Notte Del Partito had the audience in stitches the entire time. From start to finish, this production really pushed every button to make the audience laugh. Tubrett’s script went right for the throat with jokes that ranged from Adam’s hilarious reading of his wedding vows to the girls enjoying “Officer Sexington” removing his uniform for the party. The cast really worked well as an ensemble and kept the energy flowing from scene to scene. A comedy like this requires the cast to work as a team and have complete confidence in the lines; to never feel afraid to look and sound stupid. If you know it’s funny then the audience will find it funny. This cast believed in the hilarious things they were saying on stage. If the crowd catches you flinching on your own lines, then you’ve lost them. This cast made the material enjoyable by working so well together. One obstacle actors face when rehearsing a show like this is that they do not have people laughing while they practice. It is very important to wait for the laugh while doing a comedy. The audience can miss important dialogue if they are laughing over lines. When a crowd starts to laugh, pause and let it die down before you come in with your next line. This was missed a few times in this show and therefore we lost things the characters were saying. Other than that, the cast was fantastic!
Tubrett wrote a great little comedy here and directed it very well. She used her stage and filled it with these wonderful characters. This style of comedy reminded of the films Knocked Up or The 40 Year Old Virgin. It had a sick charm and wit to it. It was a story that everyone could relate to and everyone found it funny. I especially liked the realistic waiters she used played by Will Bonnar and Chelsey Tubrett. They never tried to steal the scene from the main characters and always cleared things away while providing very nice and light moments for the actors on stage to react to. It made the atmosphere of a the bar scenes realistic.
This was a great show from this young writer/director and hilarious performance from this outstanding cast. Amazing job!