Archikulture Digest

Number 8: July, 2000

Orlando salivates at the possibility of a BRAND, NEW

Arena! Hip Hip Hooray! Meanwhile, our oldest and youngest theaters sit

on the slippery slope of financial implosion. Nothing’s too good for

those bad boys of the NBA, but the Civic is lucky to get tough love from

Orlando. For half the price of the Glass Asparagus, the Civic might

survive if it can dig up matching funds. Doughty little Performance

Space Orlando needs even less, maybe about as much as the deli tray at

the Mayor’s inaugural cost. Well, you know what they say: If you can

make it in New York, you can make it anywhere. Except Orlando.

Tempest
Written by Wm Shakespeare

Directed by John DiDonna

Starring Paul Wegman, Catherine Mangan, Erin Muroski, Mark March</b>

You stick a guy on an island with nothing but a monster, his daughter,

and a few books from the Wiccan Lending Library, and he’s likely to make

a bit of trouble. Prospero (Wegman), Deposed Duke of Milan, runs the

island with sprite Ariel (Muroski) and monster Caliban (March). Prospero

conjures up a plane wreck, bringing daughter Miranda (Mangan) a suitor,

along with a few old enemies and a pretty good 3 Stooges act. The crash

party arrives in groups – Ferdinand (William Warriner) immediately

falls for Miranda, who’s never seen any other men save dear old daddy

and smelly old Caliban. Group 2 consists of Ferdinand’s daddy Alonso

(Bobby Bell), his advisor (John Kelly), the jaded Antonia (Peg

O’Keefe) and Sebastia. Antonia runs Milan these days, and plans to

off Alonso. Ensemble, they hang out and kvetch while Ferdinand goes

a-courting. The real entertainment revolves around nerdy Trinculo,

drunken Stephano, and hapless Caliban plotting to overthrow Prospero.

They’re drunk enough to believe this will work AND think it’s a great

idea. How do we know it’s a comedy? In a tragedy, most of these

secondary players would exit, dead into the wings.

Everyone clicks in this production. Prospero comes across as a guy who

spent a little too much time in the Crystal department at Wal Mart.

Ariel flits over the stage, appearing and disappearing as needed with a

perfectly camouflaged leotard, controlling the other actors via mime.

She represents the perfect Shakespearian plot device, being only visible

to Prospero and the audience. Precisely timed prat falls and practiced

stage drunkenness enlivened the Trinculo/Stephano/Caliban triad, and the

Ducal party mixes vacuous importance with backstabbing ambition. Like

any really good comedy, plot is faint and motivation cloudy, but comedy

comes from embellishment. Tonight, Orlando’s stalwart embellishers have

their wit wound fully.

The Chairs

By Eugene Ionesco

Directed by Rick Stanley

Starring Becky Fischer and Joe Swanberg

Mad Cow Theater</b>

What we have here is a failure to comunicate. Our Old Couple, married

nigh on 100 years or so, struggles to sum up life together. Tell me that

friendly old story, the one I ask for every night. You could have been

so much more – head Coach, head General, head King maybe. Lonely and

isolated on the desert island of the mind, confined in a house with

more doors than any two actors could ever need, as many doors as choices

in life, our Old Couple love and ignore each other the only way possible

  • at the top of their lungs and in each other’s face. Summing up is hard

to do – hire a professional orator, and invite everyone that counts,

landlords and intellectuals. That’s anyone who’s anything anywhere –

you’re either a landlord, or you’re an intellectual. Couch potatoes need

not apply. At the appointed time, the art and money crowd shows up – and

bring on the chairs! We’ll need lots of them! Pack the house, the Orator

will arrive any moment!

Set on a corrugated cardboard set, painted a green I always associate

with failing aerospace companies, the only flashes of contrast appear

from red lights behind the set, a bit of cloth and Old Woman’s costume,

a sort of fuchsia rooster getup that you need to show you’re over 65 to

purchase at Beall’s. And there are doors. Doors, doors, doors

everywhere, all the better to pull the thrift shop chairs onto the set

for the invisible members of the cast, members who perhaps exist only in

your mind. Are there more than 2 people on stage? Or did the actors

fool us otherwise? And do we listen to our closest friends and

companions? I know I don’t. I don’t even listen to the voices in my own

head. There are other things to think about, and no time for other’s

thoughts. Life piles up opinions and facts and experience, none worth a

hoot in our final act. This mountain of information grows fuzz on the

intellect just like New Years morn grows fuzz on your tongue. The

farther you go, the harder it gets.

Here and Now

Written by Tim Sullivan and Derek Mize

Performance Space Orlando

June 23, 2000</b>

Six actors – six sketches. Coincidence, or just another conspiracy? More

local writing and performing talent lurks in the shadows, trying to make

the big time. Are they up to it yet? Bits of brilliance shine, and the

bad spots aren’t that awful. Tonight’s top skit is “Mime School”. You

don’t just go out on a street corner and annoy people, you have to study

long and hard to pull that invisible rope and push that non-existent

wall. All goes quietly and smoothly until Tony the Troublemaker (Tim

Sullivan) shows up demanding instruction in audible English. We all

remember this guy from High School, and he raises a ruckus until the

prof throws the book at him. Even though it’s invisible, it packs quite

a wallop. It’s only pretend blood, but once those quiet pancake faced

waifs get a taste, there’s no stopping till Tony learns the lesson.

What’s the most depressing career in the world? High School guidance

counselor is certainly in my bottom 10. “Career Day” comes around once

a year, and Counselor Strom (Bret Carson) gets to tell people with less

potential than he has what they should do with their lives. Get married

fast, learn how to mix concrete, and experiment with heroin are some of

the better options in this High School Confidential.

Laura Robinson stars as the “Store Stalker”. Just like cops, you can’t

find a salesclerk when you need one, and when you would just as soon be alone,

they’re all over. Sales are falling at “The Ridge” as over-enthusiastic

Heather OD’s as Employee of the Month. Whatever color she has, that’s

this years gotta have it fashion. I don’t know about you, but it’s

enough to make me buy my underwear on the Internet.

Interesting concepts and tight delivery make this a promising group to

watch. A few flat spots here shouldn’t discourage audience encouragement

or appreciation.

Ready When You are, C.B.!

Theater UCF

Written by Susan Slade

Dir by Lani Harris

Starring Brian Demers, Cindy Pearlman, Charlotte Black</b>

Pretty boy Jonas (Demers) can’t stand making bad films that pay millions

of dollars. He flees the set of “The Love God” and 40 process servers to

hide out in the New York Apartment of insecure landlady Annie

(Pearlman). To her it’s business, to him it’s just monkey business.

Annie’s such a tempting play that he ignores his old girlfriend

Felicia, who prances about in a backless, slit skirt Take Me NOW outfit.

Can he make more money playing the ponies than acting? Will Annie turn

to a desperate life of acting in Tennessee Williams plays? And will

Jonas’ Mom (Michelle Foytek) ever see her darling baby playboy married

to a nice Jewish girl? Uh, sure… why not?

With neither enough laughs to count as a romantic comedy nor enough

tension to count as a dramatic romance, this play falls into a demimonde

of a funny / nice sitcom. The sparks that Jonas and Annie should strike

never appear, and Felicia doesn’t even seem vaguely annoyed that her

best friend might end up with her best lover. Still, Felicia steals

every scene she’s in. A sexy alcoholic lust and outfits you’d only wear

in New York push her over the top. Jonas’ mom Sadie comes a close

second with her Uber Yiddish shtick, but she just doesn’t have enough

stage time to really salvage this production.

The story here is standard. If you fall in love, you take a chance and

you ought to do that every so often. Annie resists as long as is

reasonable for two acts and half a dozen scenes, and finally strips down

to modest underwear in a nice game of strip blackjack. She’s sympathetic,

but be glad that sympathy needn’t be exercised in your apartment. Jonas,

you never really come to love or despise. He’s looks good and hits his

cues, and you should hate him for bring such a shallow self-centered

cad. I didn’t feel like working that hard tonight.

Myrtle Schmergle’s Mystical Adventures

Written & Performed by Katarinah Mazar

Performance Space Orlando</b>

We should all have an aunt like Myrtle – Big hair and teensy steps,

sparkly glasses and matching everything, and that sort of never say die

optimism that spinsterhood develops in a woman. Somehow, a crew of us

space aliens wind up in her living room monitoring talks with Mom. Are

any of us Talent Scouts ? Any of us attractive eligible men? Not

tonight, alas, but share her story. Starting as a lowly exotic dancer

at that famous chain “Girls Girls Girls”, she moves with the grace and

eroticism of the big mechanical bear at Chuck E Cheese’s. She danced

topless in her early days, but had her standards – she never took off

her glasses, no matter what the guys yelled. Myrtle has a talent, at

least in her own mind. L.A. calls, and after terrorizing every talent

agent her vision returns and directs her to the Big O – Orlando.

Harriet the Hippo, her she comes.

As a one woman show, Myrtle has a strong character but drifts a bit in

the actual entertainment department. Is it a lip sync show with air

guitar? Original rap music by Ice Burg, the Yiddish rapper? Or a bunch

of covers sung by your aunty from Long Island? I think she’d be

interesting at a party, but she’s a bit light to fill a stage all on her

own for 45 minutes. But, like all the starstuck, she’s out there

pitching. Duck her fastballs – they leave welts.


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