For about ten minutes, this Fine Wine Players production is as good as anything in the Fringe. Very cool music, full of synthesizers and tubas, floats out of hidden speakers. Amanda Puskar, all curls and greasepaint and raccoon eyes, silently hands out the programs.
Then the play begins.
Really, why would anyone do this? Playwright Ann James gives us four Twilight Zone-themed stories. One of them, in which an ambitious news reporter (Ashley Morgaine Lowe) interviews a widow who collects dolls (Marilyn Bennett, who also produces) has some potential, if the clunky exposition at the end is excised and the dialogue otherwise sharpened. The other three are pointless, incomprehensible or both.
The acting is graceless, hammy and underprepared. An actor must deliver his lines as though he just thought of the words; these guys delivered their lines as though they were trying to visualize the script they had in their hands ten minutes before the performance opened. Indeed, most community theater I’ve seen puts better actors on the stage, and would consider a production like this to be a failure. I was surprised in reading the bios to discover that some of the performers have worked with Scena, which periodically does good stuff.
The Fine Wine Players appear to be dedicated to putting the mature actor on stage. I think that’s a great idea, but there’s more to being a theater company than simply declaring yourself one. Fine Wine would have been better advised to take the money which they used to pay for a Fringe entry and use it to help pay for training and development instead. That way, they could have put on a Fringe-worthy show in 2009, instead of this unfortunate mess.
I specifically exempt the adorable Ms. Puskar from all of these criticisms. To be fair, though, she didn’t have many lines, and appears to be about seven years old.
- Running time: 45 minutes
- Tickets: Funny Propositions
- Remaining Shows: Wed, July 23 at 6:30 . Sat, July 26 at 3 . Sun, July 27 at 3
- Where: Goethe Institute, 812 7th Street, NW