5 X TENN (OR SO)

Posted: August 12, 2013 in Uncategorized

Stone Soup Theatre is now performing 6 one-act plays by quintessential American playwright, Tennessee Williams. The production features an ensemble cast of eight who bring the dark, gritty, and sometimes surprisingly humorous world of Williams to life.

The first play is “Municipal Abattoir,” a strange, short piece about a clerk, played by Terrence Boyd, who always follows the rules, but who accidentally crossed the wrong authority figure one day and has now been told to show up at the abattoir for what seems to be punitive reasons.  Unfortunately, he cannot find his way there, and things get even more strange when he comes across a man, played by Jesse Putnam, who tries to tell him to flee instead.  This is one of the odder pieces of the night, but which deals with serious themes about social control and the importance of individuals to revolt against corrupt authorities.

The second piece of the evening is “Chalky White Substance,” which is even stranger than the first. It features Scott Zogg as “Mark” and Patrick Baxter as “Luke” and deals with some of Williams’ favorite themes: homosexuality, religion, and abuse power, and mistreatment of women.

The third piece is “Sunburst,” and is one of the strongest plays of the evening. The plot involves two hotel workers played by Patrick Baxter and Jesse Putnam who ultimately end up foiling their attempt to rob a wealthy, dying woman named “Miss Sails,” played Maureen Miko, of her “sunburst diamond ring.” Miko gives an excellent performance as the feisty and tough “Miss Sails.”

The fourth piece before the end of “act one” is “Kingdom of Earth”. This, too, is a very strong and interesting piece featuring a fine cast that includes Brynn Garman, Gianni Truzzi, Scott Zogg, Alysha Curry, and Terrence Boyd. Set in what seems to be the Mississippi Delta region, the character “Chicken” is visited by his dying brother, “Lot,” and Lot’s new wife, “Myrtle.”  The play deals with heavy themes about questions of love, fidelity, religion, and man’s (in)capacity to care for others. It is an interesting piece with a good cast. Truzzi is especially good in his role as “Chicken.”

Following intermission, there are two other pieces, “Talk to Me Like the Rain and Let Me Listen” and “The Big Game”.  TTMLTRALML is an especially touching short piece about an old, childless couple living unhappily in the big city. It features Maureen Miko and Scott Zogg and the voice of Alysha Curry as “the child’s voice.”  Again, Miko gives a powerful and engaging performance as she describes how she would like her life to be in very poetic language and images.

The final piece of the evening is “The Big Game.”  It is set in a hospital where three main characters have come for various health problems.  Their destinies are ultimately quite different from each other, but they find a way to connect as humans when faced with questions of life and death.  This piece features Scott Zogg, Patrick Baxter, Gianni Truzzi, Terrence Boyd, Jesse Putnam, Brynne Garman, and Alysha Curry.

All in all, this was a very entertaining night of theatre in the tiny space that is Stone Soup. Of course, some of the pieces were more interesting than others, and there was some variation in the quality of performances, but that is almost to be expected in a show like this. But the ensemble wisely chose to work with the works of a master playwright, so half the battle was won already. In short,this is a scaled down, simplified, no-glitz night of well-done theatre.

5XTENN (or so) plays through March 9th at Stone Soup Theatre. http://www.StoneSoupTheatre.org

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