Saturday, June 19, 2010

Marathon 2010: Series B

Marathon 2010: Series B is another strong evening of one acts from the Ensemble Studio Theatre. In They Float Up (written by Jacquelyn Reingold and directed by Michael Barakiva), a middle-aged stripper-wannabe forces a young man to interact with her. The play gives a vivid sense of the pain of New Orleans five years after Katrina and of the neediness of individual humans. It's also funny, and the choreography by Mimi Quillin is just right. (However, it could benefit from some tightening.) Airborne (written by Laura Jacqmin and directed by Dan Bonnell) has much to say about women in the military, and it devastatingly combines intense physicality, smart language, and a perfect sense of timing. Amateurs (written by David Auburn and directed by Harris Yulin), anchored by a flawless performance by David Rasche, features mesmerizing cat-and-mouse interactions between a politician and the daughter of a man he beat in an election years earlier. The play starts slowly, but once it gets up a head of steam, it's quite good. Anniversary (written by Rachel Bonds and directed by Linsay Firman) elegantly telescopes many years into a half hour or so without ever skimping on characterization, meaning, or emotion. The two leads, Julie Fitzpatrick and Jerry Richardson, subtly navigate the delicate turns of emotion, and I hope to see more of both of them. The weakest entry of the evening is Interviewing Miss Davis (written by Laura Maria Censabella and directed by Kel Haney), the story of a young woman applying to be Bette Davis's personal assistant. There is much that is interesting here, particularly in the character of the current assistant (nicely played by Adria Vitlar), but the decision to feature such a well-known person works against the play--Delphi Harrington's not-quite-Bette-Davis manner of speaking is distracting, as is wondering what is true and what is fictional. The play also drags some.

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