Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Wonderland: One-Act Festival

I hate to compare Wonderland, a one-act festival at Theater Row, to anything so crude as reality TV, but it reminds me a lot of the first week of movies being premiered on FOX's On The Lot. Substitute theater for film (call it Standing Room Only) and leave the judges off-camera, and you've distilled the popular elimination format of TV for off-off-Broadway, a battle of the fringe. The work is what you'd expect: it's crammed, sometimes crude, and certainly rushed from a technical standpoint. But that just makes the performances and the plays all the more surprising: diamonds in the coal bin seemed to be a dime a dozen when I went, and three of the four one-acts I saw were engaging enough to make me want to see more. From heightened language in one play to an all-out battle of personal put-downs in another, or domestic violence stuck in a poetic frame alongside brothers making peace on their father's deathbed, these plays found ways to work around cliche to do good work, and while they're far from perfect, they're getting there.

[Read on]

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