Summer Shorts – Series B – A Slight & Mixed Bag

A Woman by Chris Cragin
Directed by Kel Haney

Pastor Cliff (Mark Boyett) has just been hired by a Presbyterian church greatly through the aegis of longtime friend and congregation member Kim (Jennifer Ikeda) who first brought him to God. Language is colloquial, not conservative. Affection and respect are clear. Kim is a professor and mother. She’s also a feminist. Determined that a woman should be nominated as an Elder she filled out her suggestion slip for the governing board with “A Woman,” meaning, she tells Pastor Cliff, any woman. The appointment is against church orthodoxy.

When Pastor Cliff admits that despite Biblical law, women have the right, Kim bristles saying it’s not about that, but rather making them part of the conversation. A compromise is reached. That’s it. No delving into Christianity’s subversion of women or either character. To say the piece is slight, puts it mildly.

Both actors are fine. Jennifer Ikeda is so natural, one feels like a voyeur.

I don’t see the necessity to make Kim physically appear unfeminine i.e. without sex unless the author wishes to undermine her point.

Andy Powers, Donovan Mitchell, Rachel Napoleon, Georgia Ximenes Lifsher

Wedding Bash by Lindsey Kraft and Andrew Leeds
Directed by J.J. Kandel

Dana (Rachel Napoleon) and Lonny (Donovan Mitchell) are selfish, material-proud, generation Xers to whom price and labels are paramount. Like many who attribute prime importance to these aspects of life, they’re also extremely cheap. Having just returned from the honeymoon, flush from what they agree was the wedding of the year, the couple invite dear friends Edi (Georgia Ximenes Lifsher) and Alan (Andy Powers) – not a couple- to dinner. Pleasantries are exchanged, but the only thing on anyone’s mind is the recent event.

The newlyweds want to brag and rehash. It seems, however, that both Eli and Andy feel the destination wedding was not only tacky but prohibitively expensive to guests. To save Dana and Lonny from “further embarrassment”, Andy tells the truth. Description is credible and empatheticly distressing. Reaction is bankable. Partial solution is funny.

Wedding Bash would be more amusing with additional specific, wince-inducing examples of the nuptials. Acting is yeoman-like. Direction ably handles timing, facial expressions, and the physical finale. Wardrobe appears to come from different plays.

John Garrett Greer and Keilyn Durrel Jones

Break Point by Neil Labute
Directed by Neil Labute

Oliver (John Garrett Greer) has asked Stan (Keilyn Durrel Jones) to meet him at the courts before an important French match. Both professional tennis players, the men first encountered one another at an adolescent sports camp and have followed each other’s careers. Oliver is top ranked with multiple homes and endorsements. Stan manages a respectable living. Why, he wonders, a summons after all these years?

It seems that Oliver is unwilling to risk not winning a match which might solidify a professional life edging toward twilight. Protesting his competitor has much less to lose in the long run, he wants Stan to throw the championship. Many millions of dollars would change hands. Stan is shocked and appalled. He’s always held Oliver’s game i.e. integrity in highest regard.

Dialogue is sharp, fast, and well researched. Interaction plays like a match. Both characters are vividly drawn and acted. The only thing wrong with the piece is a cop-out ending.

LaBute’s Direction is skillful. Lines overlap, pauses are masterfully engineered. Energy is high, thus tense when silence occurs.

Photos by Carol Rosegg
Opening: Jennifer Ikeda and Mark Boyett

Throughline Artists presents Summer Shorts
59E59 Theaters 
59 East 59th Street
In repertory through September 2, 2017

About Alix Cohen (785 Articles)
Alix Cohen is the recipient of eight New York Press Club Awards for work published on this venue. Her writing history began with poetry, segued into lyrics and took a commercial detour while holding executive positions in product development, merchandising, and design. A cultural sponge, she now turns her diverse personal and professional background to authoring pieces about culture/the arts with particular interest in artists/performers and entrepreneurs. Theater, music, art/design are lifelong areas of study and passion. She is a voting member of Drama Desk and Drama League. Alix’s professional experience in women’s fashion fuels writing in that area. Besides Woman Around Town, the journalist writes for Cabaret Scenes, Broadway World, and Theater Pizzazz. Additional pieces have been published by The New York Post, The National Observer’s Playground Magazine, Pasadena Magazine, Times Square Chronicles, and ifashionnetwork. She lives in Manhattan. Of course.