One of the things that makes Washington DC such an exciting theatre town is its willingness to nurture and cultivate new talent. The Source Festival is a great place to see new work from promising playwrights.Reviewed by Ted Ying
By Raymond Werner and directed by Jennifer L. Nelson
It is a challenge to create good theater featuring senior performers, especially in the short play format. In the vein of Robert Anderson’s I’m Herbert (featured in You Know I Can’t Hear You When the Water’s Running), Night Song is a heart-wrenching story of an older stroke victim (Jim Epstein) taking care of his long-time dementia-afflicted wife (Rusty Clauss) and the problems they face. The story is powerful, but oft-times the scene and dialogue becomes repetitive. This piece has the potential to become an excellent short work for older actors. Rusty Clauss gave an exceptional performance as the mentally decaying wife.
X-RAY VISION AT THE MOTEL 9
By Ian August and directed by Alan Paul
Younger brother, Joe (Chris Dinolfo), tries to convince his mentally-challenged brother, Hank (Eric Humphries) to get dressed and ready to go to church. Hank talks about his imagined super powers including his X-ray vision that allows him to see things that go on inside buildings like the Motel 9. The story starts slowly, but in the second half moves very well and provides a satisfying heart-warming ending. With some reworking, this could be the short play answer to Of Mice and Men, specifically the rich relationship between Lennie and George.
BLOOD AND MENTHOL
By Christopher Lockheardt and directed by Rachel Grossman
Lilly (Niki Jacobsen) has fond memories of her father’s clean-shaven face, down to the smell of his Barbasol shaving cream. She dreams of when she’ll meet her Mr. Right and shave him to replay her mother’s welcome home kiss each night as her father returned from work. As she has never shaved a man before, she enlists her best friend, Aaron (Joe Isenberg), to practice. Blood and Menthol is the light-hearted rom-com of Group C. Not particularly deep, it telegraphs an obvious feel good ending.
PLEASE REPORT ANY SUSPICIOUS ACTIVITY
By Rick Park and directed by Mary Hall Surface
The most polished of the selections in Group C, this one-act was laugh-a-minute (actually many per minute) fun. A man (Tom Howell) is quietly reading his book on the subway with the titular PSA in the background when two gay dolphins (Nathan Weinberger and Adam S. Curtis) sit on either side of him and have a lover’s quarrel. This piece is well-written comedy (including several wonderful stabs at West Side Story) and keeps the audience in stitches throughout. Despite no lines, Howell has a wonderfully expressive face and ably carries his share of the humor. Weinberger and Curtis do an excellent job of keeping the piece moving and delivering their lines. Curtis in particular delivers some great additional humor with his Flipper laugh and excellent physical acting. Group C was worth seeing for this piece alone.
Co-production with Boston Theater Marathon
By William Donnelly and directed by Jennifer John
This piece wins the award for the best overall acting in Group C. Brian (Chris Mancusi) drops in at 3am on his sister, Irene (Jessica Wanamaker) to tell his tale of losing his beloved nocturnal pet and his experiences searching for the sugar glider each night. The introductory monologue was largely superfluous and the ending was somewhat precipitous and rushed, but Mancusi and Wanamaker deliver fine performances and captivate the audience for their “10 minutes”. I appreciated Brian’s story but was left wanting to know more about Irene.
By Kathleen Akerley and directed by Leslie Felbian
Anyone that might have dropped off a little before this was definitely awakened by this jarring short play. It starts with a bit of scenic destruction to heavy rock music as three actors portraying ragtag boys fill the stage with props and chaos. Peter (Alex C. Vaughan), Thomas (Josh Sticklin) and Michael (Matthew Friedman) are survivors of a bombed neighborhood. The guys do a reasonably good job portraying Peter Pan-type Lost Boys in a Mad Max world. The play is confusing and rambling and has an especially abrupt ending.