Ten minute plays can always be relied on to hit their marks, be short and sweet, and if one doesn’t work for you, just a wait a few minutes and something else more satisfying will probably come along. That’s the case with the Group A selections of the Source Festival’s 10-Minute series. Especially if you have the patience to wait until after intermission, you won’t be disappointed and will easily find yourself eager to come back for more.
Don’t get me wrong, the first three pieces in the first Act are quite good and show why they were finalists selected out of the hundreds of submissions. They’re also directed by some of the most theatrically committed professionals in the metro area. They just come across as more “typical “than the aggressively original plays later on. “The Network” by Nathaniel Kressen, directed by Abel Lopez is the perfect beginning of a fun-filled evening and one can only hope that the other two groups have as relevant a start, where a writer’s characters take on lives of their own when he’s connected to the network, especially with the hot luscious Amal Saade calling the shots.
Jen Silverman’s “Seven Seconds Before the Conflagration” directed by Akiva Fox would be as overlong as its title were it not for John Brady who plays a nicely tortured art enthusiast in love with a classic nude painting while his similarly tortured niece, nicely played by Tina Ghandchilar secretly longs for him. Similar deal with “Mio Cuore-My Heart” by Kate Sullivan Gibbens directed by the inimitable Craig Wallace, which explores the unintended after-effects of heart transplant surgery, an interesting though rather played out concept that adds a few sparks to the evening.
Video images of some of the artists and collaborators involved in the Festival are projected on the back wall along with their witty comments and observations throughout the intermission.
Anyone who leaves at that point thinking that the rest of the program is more of the same will miss their blessing. “In the River” by Ken Robbins, directed by Mellissa-Leigh Bustamante and Kjerstin Lysne is the most mesmerizing piece I’ve seen that covers disturbing cultural alliances fueled by ancient tribal hatreds, within a Slovak and middle eastern context, that is so experiential it almost defies description. It is exquisitely performed by Robert Bromley as the Fisherman and Kelly Mayfield as the River with couplets of characters offering asides, commentary and observations, and an emotional impact that must be seen to be believed.
In nice balance, the light hearted “In the Fort” by Michael Bettencourt directed by Emily Levin offers sweet performances by Evelyn Cannon and Sofia Campoamor as a mother and daughter dealing with their own cultural explorations and a young girl’s growing sense of self-awareness and identify. The evening ends with Ryan Dowler’s “Something Like Loneliness” ably directed by the irrepressible Randy Baker, a fun-filled romp offering a new way of thinking about emotions. How about capturing feelings and soul-filled expressions and storing them carefully …in Tupperware? Dowler leads up to the hilarious premise so deftly, and Tony Bullock as Dan delivers such a succulent, in the moment performance, that you will actually start to ponder about innovative uses for those ubiquitous air-tight containers.
In these days of financial hardship and turmoil, it’s satisfying to see that the Source Festival is alive and very well, especially considering that the theater lurched through serious threats of demolition and demise a few years ago. The Source Festival is presented by Cultural Development Corporation, a D.C-based nonprofit organization that makes space for art. If Source can pull through, well, there’s hope for us all. The least we can do is grab a ticket or two to celebrate and catch innovative new theater in the making. That’s what it’s all about.
Source Festival 2010
10-Minute Plays – Group A
reviewed by Debbie Jackson
Source Festival runs thru July 3, 2010.
For Details, Directions and Tickets, click here.