What could possibly be more fun than one play in a two-hour time period? How about ten plays? That’s exactly what you’ll get if you head down to the Fells Point Corner Theatre’s production of 10×10 Festival 2012. This is second annual ten-minute play festival hosted at FPCT. This year over 69 entries were submitted by playwrights across the country, and a blind selection of ten were chosen for production. With half the playwrights from Baltimore, the show has a little something for everyone. It has an eclectic selection of comedy, dramadey and one or two dramas to help balance out the evening. These works are innovative and exciting, and have nothing in common other than the fact that they were all selected for this play festival. With six different directors and fourteen different actors these plays are brought together with a vibrant life and intricate attention to detail – allowing each playwright’s voice to be heard.
Seven-Eleven At Three
Written by Christine Macready of Lancaster, PA, this play is the weakest link the otherwise fantastic selection of shows. The idea revolves around a drunken woman (Jillian Colucci) stumbling into a convenience store at three in the morning mistaking it for a bar. Colucci’s over-acting in this play feels extremely unnatural, as she’s struggling to make herself drunker than might be natural or necessary. And there is no build for Bernie’s (Tucker Foltz) extreme frustration that is reached at the end of the play. This show just doesn’t mesh with the others, the writing seems bland, the acting contrived, and it just doesn’t flow well from one moment to the next.
Written by Kate Bishop of Baltimore, MD, this play sheds new light on an old fairytale. The scenic painting in this particular show is hysterical. The cauldron stand has a dominatrix gingerbread woman painted upon it, complete with S&M gear and whip. The two witches, Hildy (Sophie Hinderberger) and Gladys (Helenmary Ball) execute the perfect cackle, sounding nefarious and wicked. Hinderberger’s interactions with Mark (Andrew Porter) are sexually comical as she tries to convince him to be the publicity rep. for her grandma – the original Hansel & Gretel witch. The thing that stands out about this show is the rhyming couplets used for Ball’s speech pattern. Just like an old witch of childhood stories she speaks in cryptic rhymes and does so with a dark flare.
Written by Sharon Goldner of Baltimore, MD, this play feels like something fresh out of the vagina monologues, if the vagina monologues also included boobs. A woman (Tessa Blische) is terribly unhappy with her breasts so she takes them out to have a discussion with them. Goldner cleverly writes each of Blische’s boobs as characters, Boob#1 (Anne Shoemaker) and Boob#2 (Kate Shoemaker.) The Shoemakers embody the perfect catty personality for this pair of breasts, snarking and biting at Blische as she complains. Her frustration over her inadequate endowments is more than apparent, written on her face and extended through the exasperation in her tone. Director Richard Barber creates the perfect balance of chemistry between these three ladies, each boob on a stool, with the woman seated on a higher stool behind them. A great laugh-out-loud experience for every woman who has ever had a moment of disappointment with her boobs.
Written by Amy Bernstein of Baltimore, MD, the audience is transported to a futuristic time where the law requires every person upon their 18th birthday to use a device that will tell them the exact date, time, and cause of their death. The concept of this play is well written, Bernstein crafts the notion of the futuristic society with just the right amount of changes to still make it a believable reality without feeling like it is something straight out of a science fiction novel. The acting is average and subdued but creates a nice vehicle to allow the words of the playwright to really speak to the audience about what it might be like, from varying perspectives, if you were forced to know about your pending death.
Written by Tom Coash of New Haven, CT, this play is a lovely little venture into an old married couple’s life. Director Richard Barber encourages the chemistry between Doris (Helenmary Ball) and Harold (Josh Shoemaker) which starts out extremely strained. Shoemaker carries the air of a miserable sarcastic man who clearly wants to be anywhere but India with his wife on their anniversary. He’s cantankerous and every line he delivers is laced with that biting sarcasm that makes you laugh. Ball presents the dreamy hopeless romantic, her soft subtle voice carrying her idle hopes of rekindling their burned out marriage flame. It is a quaint little moment of love lost; confessions and love rediscovered that puts the perfect cap on the festival as it is the last show presented.
Written by James Walczy of Hilton Head Island, SC we take a look at what it’s like just before you die in this quirky play. Bruce (Josh Shoemaker) receives a visit from the novice angel Jeff (Tucker Foltz) who delivers the news that Shoemaker is scheduled to die that day. The polite exchange of wit and uncertainty drives Walczy’s notions of the afterlife to the audience through these unique individuals. The highlight of this play comes from the cameo of the neighbor, Van (Howard Berkowitz) who is a sleazy, lazy roustabout that is repugnant to all the senses. Berkowitz embodies this role as if it were an honor making him thoroughly enjoyable.
People Like Us
Written by Chris Shaw Swanson of Westerville, OH, this play is a discovery of working relationships. Julie (Sophie Hinderberger) and Marion (Kate Shoemaker) have nothing in common. Except for the fact that they work in the same office. And each of them has a very obvious physical deformity. Hinderberger explodes with diarrhea of the mouth and uses spastic energy to bounce about the stage almost like a hyper Chihuahua that has to be around people to feel comforted. Shoemaker is the exact opposite, subtle, quiet, contained and allows her expressions to come from slight shifts in her facial features. Hinderberger’s character’s talking is exhaustive and this is well reflected in Shoemaker’s interactions with her. The play really delves into the meat of a potential relationship between the two characters and both of these actors carry off their physical deformity with a raw believability that makes the story that much more interesting.
Written by Geoffrey Welchman of Baltimore, MD, this play is something that everyone can relate to: telemarketing. Director Howard Berkowitz sets the stage perfectly creating two vastly different settings in which our two characters seem most at home; a lounge chair in a living room, and an office space with a desk. The telemarketer (Anne Shoemaker) is the epitome of classic southern charm. Shoemaker oozes her charming polite nature through each question she asks, letting her tone sing sweetly to the man (David Shoemaker) on the other end of the line. Welchman creates a realistic sounding conversation, mimicking what everyone experiences if they’ve ever stayed on the line with a survey person for as long as these two characters do. The ending is astonishing and David Shoemaker’s responses to Anne Shoemaker’s questions are pricelessly hysterical. The comic punches are there and this is one of the most enjoyable comic displays in the festival.
Bring A Shovel
Written by Peter Davis of Baltimore, MD, this is the heavy drama of the festival that brings balance to all of the lighter plays performed. Director Lance Lewman brings a dark dynamic to the stage with his subtle placement of props and use of accents in his actors. Ray (Andrew Porter) plays a man who has done something terrible and needs the help of his brother Carl (Josh Snowden.) The conflict between them bubbles over like a volcano exploding into a violent physical brawl. These two actors really take to task their emotions in this fight and each punch and thrust is thrown with a fierce feeling behind it. Snowden exhibits panicked anger and uses his facial expressions to exemplify this rather than simply raising his voice. Porter plays an equally active character letting his fear ring through in his voice. This is the most stunning play in the festival, dramatic turns crafted into the text and acted to perfection.
The Litnus, The Treasure, The Grumpus, and Dave
Written by Andy Grigg of Los Angeles, CA, this play is perhaps the best in the festival. It has elements of adventure, comedy, love and poetry. Grigg manages to incorporate a very Seussical feeling to his rhyming prose that is narrated by Jody (Ann Shoemaker) when she tells the audience of her plight and excursions to win the heart of her true love Dave (Josh Snowden.) Director Kate McKenna uses clever lighting shifts to delineate between Shoemaker’s adventures and her moments of interaction with Snowden. Shoemaker flips easily from the frantic yet confident woman who braves the Grumpus, among other things, telling her tale as if she were Horton from a Seuss story; to a stammering nervous mess in the diner when interacting with Snowden. Her acting is second to none in this festival and her excitement and enthusiasm transcends her character, flowing out over the audience and engaging them with the show. Hats off to this creative team, especially Grigg, for the unique style, subject and performance of this captivating play.
Running Time: Two hours and 20 minutes, with one intermission.
The FCPT 10×10 Festival 2012 plays through April 29, 2012 at The Fells Point Corner Theatre – 251 S. Ann Street, in Baltimore, MD. For tickets please call the box office at (410) 276-7837, or purchase them online.