Number 5: Late April, 2000
by Carl F. Gauze
As the big Harleys of Bike week roll into the sunset
(actually, they’re all trailered down – you can see them unload at Palm
Coast and Micanopy), the Big Guns of the Arts roll in – Lillian Hellman
and Wm. Shakespeare. All over town, you can hear the roar of Elizabethan
Iambic Pentameter – Vouch-SAFE-Vouch-SAFE-Vouch-SAFE-Vouch-Safe. Art
Festival and Yard Sales fill the air. Some day, it might even rain.
Comedy of Errors
Written by Wm. Shakespeare
Orlando Shakespeare Festival
starring Warren Kelly, Rik Walter, David Haugen and Eric Hissom
Poor Aegeon of Syracuse! Shipwrecked again, he washes up in Ephesus,
only to face a beheading because a.) he’s from Syracuse and b.) he can’t
pony up the 1000 smackers needed to buy back his freedom. It’s a gang
territory thing. The Ancients were just a bunch of gangsters, only with
really good taste in Architecture. ” Wait a minute, ” you say -” I paid
for a comedy! What’s with a beheading in the first act?” Not to worry –
we’ve got pairs of identical twins, separated at birth, all who show up
in this astigmatic town, and nothing can go wrong, not in the long run.
With two identically dressed Antipholii (Kelly and Walter) wandering
about, each with identically dressed Dromio’s (Hissom and Haugen) in
service, we should be able to straighten things out in a scene or two.
No one can tell anyone apart in Ephesus, especially if they’re sort of
the same size and shape. I saw you 10 minutes ago and now you don’t
remember me? Happens all the time in this Bard’s universe. Off we go –
Antipholus The Local’s wife grabs Antipholus The Tourist for dinner.
Shut out of his own house, Antipholus T. Local takes his buddies to
dinner at the local house of negotiable love. Jewelry goes to the wrong
Antipholus. Money goes to the wrong servant. Beatings are applied to the
wrong miscreant. People are arrested, only to reappear before their
doppelgangers have quite cleared the stage. Want a logical plot? Go see
However, if you are in the mood for Elizabethan farce, fart jokes, fat
chick jokes, and general fun mayhem, you can’t do better. An energetic
cast runs in and out of the Technicolor cartoon set, with Hissom and
Walter exchanging actual blows from time to time. Strong support from
the larger than ridiculous Balthazar (Devin McLean) , the proto-HMO Dr.
Pinch (Michael Dressler), and miniature Abbess (Holly Haire) carry the
action through the medieval puns you might not get. Even the Orlando
Fire Department keeps it’s sirens down for the show. Oh, yeah – Aegeon.
Don’t worry, one of the twins sort of recognizes him, or maybe both, but
they have the scratch to throw his bail. Hey, it’s a comedy, remember?
Toys in the Attic
Written by Lillian Hellmann
Directed by Lani Harris
Starring Nicole Porter, Michelle Foytek, William Bowser, Jr.
Success isn’t really all that bad, once you get used to it. Julian
Berniers (Bowser) finally found some, while sisters Annie (Porter) &
Carrie (Foytek) devoted their lives to supporting him while keeping
their virginity in the icebox. He’s seen the world and hooked up with
ditzy wife Lily (Tracy Makens), only to turn up mysteriously with $150k
in hard cash. Poker? Jewel robbery? Nope, Real Estate – that’s where the
big boys make their real money in Nwalins. Gifts all around, pay off the
mortgage, and now Ann & Carry can take that long fantasized trip to
Europe. But without Julian’s dependence on them, the spinster sisters
loose their compass, each other, and Julian to boot. It’s jealousy, and
jealousy of the worst kind, between sister and brother.
With an ominous HGTV set, the sisters play out their drama in isolation
from one another. You can feel the sparks in the text, but the flush of
anger and hate as Annie admits her love was more than brotherly never
surfaces. The subtext of racism seems a distant memory to these players,
and revelations of mixed heritage doesn’t bring the sense of shame it
should for a story set in the deep south of 1949. The strongest
character shuffles around in the form of Gus (Mike Chappel), local
milkman. His shuck & jive intro and cell phone warning had wonderful
comic overtones, which find no home in tonight’s story.
Hellman’s tale of intercine power games rings true through the ages. The
need to dominate and condescend is stronger than blood, thicker than
water. People will sacrifice anything, even the object of their desire
to maintain that grip. Annie does so by bollixing Julian’s land deal.
Carrie takes that European vacation, leaving Annie on her own. Lily’s
mother is just hoping for the day Lily come crawling home. Better to
have your daughter under your thumb in the spare room than leaving her
to happiness with the man who loves her. Misery loves company, even if
it has to drag it in off the street.
Love’s Labour’s Lost
Written by Wm. Shakespeare
Directed by Dennis Delaney
Starring Rik Walter, Eric Hissom, Richard Width, Jean Tafler, Steve
The Bookish King of Navarre (Walter) and his 3 close friends (Hissom,
Width, Lyons) swear an oath to spend the next 3 years in scholarly
pursuit, fasting, reading, and not speaking to any women. You can
imaging how long THAT lasts – about as long as it takes to hear the
Princess of France (Tafler) and her 3 hot ladies-in-waiting send a
little “yoo-hoo, boys”. Well, the king feels a bit guilty about giving
up an oath just sort of instantly, so little miss Your Highness has to
camp out in the backyard while the boys figure out what to do about this
intrusion. Four lusty young men? Four busty young girls? Hmmm – let me
see – mix up a few love letters? Try and act disinterested? Swap
identities? Dress up in a bear skin? All good ideas, and we’ll toss in
the slightly bizarre Spanish Knight Duke Armado (David Snizek). He’s of
a mind to join the university, majoring in milkmaids. The career
opportunity isn’t so great, but at least he gets a girl right away. The
Princess convinced the guilty King to hide in the woods for a year, just
in case she gets a better offer. Only a few minors are left in the
singles bar by curtain, and no one is beheaded.
Despite the stock plot, there’s plenty of room for innovation by the
players. Hissom’s semi-planned pratfalls and mooning love scene, Moth’s
(Holly Haire) overwrought aria, and Duke Armado’s duel to the underwear
stand forth. Plus, you’ll get a whole year’s worth of vouching safe and
swearing fore. Love overcomes good intention, and it’s a lot more fun.
Brian’s Bait Shack / Extreme Playwright’s Adventure
Performance Space Orlando
Given 48 hours, could you come up with a whole new idea, an entertaining
idea, then explain it to half a dozen other people, and get it on stage?
Sure, you just THINK you can’t, but the PSO crew can. PSO gave a dozen
writers, directors, and actors that chance, and they performed. The
setting – a back woods bar, specializing in cold bait and live beer,
with a Not Quite Ready For Cheers cast that wanders in and out. Uneven,
but intriguing, the collection of 8 vignettes shows some promise and a
few dead ends.
Strongest in potential and weakest in execution is “Jesus gets Drunk”,
where Our Savior hangs out, drops lines, plans this weekend’s softball
game with Hell, and discusses God’s sexual proclivities. I always heard
He was incorporeal, and thus asexual, but you know how stories get
Another promising segment, “Ashes”, delves into an alcoholic and abusive
family. Blame it all on Dead ‘ol Dad, and let his remains remain in his
favorite haunt. You can always replace those ashes if you get lonely.
More problematic was the well-acted opener “Right Bait”. Curt Nichols
and Beth Malloy presented a sexy pick up scene in a sleaze bar, but it
wasn’t clear how they were broken apart by the appearance of ‘Gator
Bait Nichol’s’ water ski client. Mystifying. More pickups of the second
kind followed immediately with the sad story of “Beer Bottle Glasses”,
with Mr. Know It All working towards getting lucky or getting beat to
pulp by the local rough trade. The end caught you off guard, but the
path to that end was a bit annoying.
All in all, the works presented were a good showing for a crew working
under pressure. It’s not polished, and it’s not improv, but some
promising twigs sprouted this evening.