Entertainment » Theatre

Artists' Exchange's 14th Annual One Act Play Festival

by Joe Siegel
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Tuesday Jul 16, 2019
Kyle Martin Clark and Adriana Albanese in "The Monster Under the Bed"
Kyle Martin Clark and Adriana Albanese in "The Monster Under the Bed"  

The work of up and coming playwrights from around the country is being showcased in Artists' Exchange's 14th Annual One Act Play Festival. The plays are all performed at Theatre 82's black box theatre.

Maximillian Gill's humorous "Top Shelf Tolstoy" is about a woman (Nova Drewes), who visits a library in search of Tolstoy's classic "Anna Karenina." Except this is no ordinary library — the clerk mixes vodka martinis and also serves as a DJ. It turns out the library has resorted to selling liquor to their patrons due to a lack of funds. Jordan DiPietro is amusing as the clerk/DJ.

Joseph Vitale's "The Monster Under the Bed" features a father (actor/playwright Nick Albanese) trying to reassure his young girl (played by Albanese's daughter Adriana) that there is no monster under her bed. The long-haired monster (Kyle Martin Clark), who looks like the singer of a 80s' heavy metal group, befriends the girl. It's an amusing story with some clever dialogue and winning performances by Albanese and Clark.

One of the best plays was Arianna Rose's tragicomedy "Family by Numbers." It begins with the father (Tom Chace) and mother (Sarah Kristiansen) reminiscing about their courtship and the birth of their three sons. The sons grow older and then tragedy strikes, leading to a powerfully haunting conclusion. Rose's script explores the nature of mortality and learning to deal with grief.

The flaws inherent in our criminal justice system are explored in Caity-Shea Violette's "The Stand," a tense drama set in the visitation room in a Chicago jail. A lawyer (Jessica Chace) urges her client (Meg Taylor-Roth) to accept a plea deal in order to avoid serving a life sentence for murder. Chace and Taylor-Roth are both magnificent.

Rhea MacCallum's "FOMO" takes a satirical look at the corrosive qualities of social media. Jack (Bob Macaux) is dismayed when his wife Ellie (Morgan Andrews) complains about their unexciting life after perusing friends' Facebook updates. Jack tries to convince her life is about more status updates and virtual friendships. It's a timely message and nicely played by the actors.

Nick Albanese also appears as an ambitious advertising whiz in George Sapio's "Putt-Putt." Albanese's Jeff tries to sell his bewildered co-workers on a religious themed golf course. Wonderful comic performances by Albanese, Jessica Chace, Steve Lynch, and Chris White as their befuddled boss Dexter.

Meg Taylor-Roth and Lauren Annicelli star in Ben Jolivet's "Up in the Air" as two lovers in a hot air balloon. The women have a stormy relationship over a lack of physical affection. Taylor-Roth and Annicelli are compelling in these roles and Jolivet's script never settles for easy answers.

This year's festival offers something for everyone, while providing a talented ensemble the opportunity to play a variety of characters. Go check it out.

"The One Act Play Festival," presented by Artists' Exchange, runs through July 27 at Theatre 82, 82 Rolfe Square, Cranston. For tickets, visit https://www.artists-exchange.org.

Joe Siegel has written for a number of other GLBT publications, including In newsweekly and Options.

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