This year the Source Festival provided three different themes for the over 500 entries in its 10-Minute Play competition. The Festival chose to highlight the group of six plays in its “Lovers & Friends” category for the official opening night. These are plays that “take a closer look at the complexities we all face in building relationships.”
Love, Death and Latex
By Jeffrey Mosser
Directed by Matt Ripa
Most of the characters in Love, Death and Latex are balloons at an eight-year-old’s birthday party (actually, human actors with balloons tied to their bodies). The central characters are Daniel (Grant Cloyd) and Sheryl (Mia Branco), who are in love and dream of escape to the big blue sky. Meanwhile, danger builds as the children get out of control with plastic knives and a BB gun. “It’s a massacre”, proclaims another balloon character.
Love, Death and Latex is a clever idea for a parody of a couple in jeopardy story. It’s a cute, light skit that provides one of two comedic bookends to the set of plays. You may never look at children with balloons the same way again.
Dance with the Devil
By Christine Hodak
Directed by Hannah Todd
Dance with the Devil involves an upper class couple on a car ride to a weekend at their summer house. William (Doug Krehbel) is a philandering state senator and Joan (Robin Covington) is his mistreated and stewing wife. She decides to use this opportunity to confront him about her discovery of his latest mistreatment of her.
These married combatants are sharply observed and well-defined characters. Their verbal battles are convincing. While Dance with the Devil does lead to a conclusion and a shift in their relationship, it is the one play that could serve as the promising seed for a longer story.
Feel Your Breath
By B. Walker Sampson
Directed by Hannah Todd
Feel Your Breath is the story of two nameless lovers who communicate largely through electronic means. X (Sarah Strasser) and Y (Edward Daniels) are busy texting and updating their statuses, but gradually realize their longing for a more human connection.
Feel Your Breath is an intelligent, almost experimental work about how we can hide behind constant communication without establishing a real relationship. It may not be the most satisfying play of the group, but it is a well-directed piece that does make its point.
Fugue for Amorous Tornadoes
By Gabriel Jason Dean
Directed by Randy Baker
Fugue for Amorous Tornadoes is literally a romance between two tornadoes. Piper (Kari Ginsburg) is a sultry and jealous lover of Five (Christian Sullivan), a strong and independent force who can’t be contained and goes where the winds take him. They are reunited after Piper finally tracks Five down after a prior encounter (“You can’t just swallow a girl up like that and leave her in the clouds.”)
While it is hard to explain Fugue for Amorous Tornadoes, it is one of the most successful and complete plays in the group. The stormy (pardon the pun) relationship between the couple manages to seem real. Their dialogue is well-integrated with movements that suggest a powerful romantic dance. Fugue for Amorous Tornadoes is both an original and affecting piece.
By Margaret Hoffman
Directed by Amber Jackson
Driving Home is a short but revealing interlude in the lives of Parker (Rebecca Bossen) and Barrow (Daniel Jacob Corey), better known as the outlaw couple “Bonnie and Clyde.” After making a pit stop on the side of the road, they discuss their lives and their future.
Driving Home is a convincing and powerful character portrait. Bonnie is the romantic, wistful one who dreams of being a dancer. Clyde is the strong one, who alternately claims Bonnie’s talking gives him a headache yet soon afterwards is confessing his love for her strong and independent spirit. In this short span the audience really gets a sense of what drove this couple and their mutual attraction, just before a fateful event in their lives.
A Disturbing Encounter at the Calhoun Residence Involving Sex, Marriage, and the American Musical Theatre
By William Cameron
Directed by Hannah Todd
A Disturbing Encounter… is the other, more successful comic bookend to the evening. It involves a dysfunctional family and a visitor who talk in a way that is too revealing manner. For example, when Charlotte (Sara Barker) and Roger (Doug Krehbel) meet the girlfriend of their teenage son Billy (Alex Vaughan), they ask him in her presence if he has fantasized about her being naked. The girlfriend Suzie remarks “What an inappropriate thing to say. I feel the need for an awkward silence.” The farcical plot involves the potential for a possible unknown familial relationship.
The conversation is fast and witty and the characters are all entertaining. While it would be hard to carry on this type of unconventional dialogue for a longer period of time, the author had a real talent for comedy and this one had the audience frequently laughing out loud. A Disturbing Encounter brought the evening of 10-Minute Plays to a highly satisfying conclusion.
Overall, these plays are an eclectic and entertaining group. The last three plays that follow the intermission are especially strong.
The 2011 Source Festival of new plays runs thru Jul7 3, 2011 at Source, 1835 14th Street NW, Washington, DC. Buy tickets.
“Lovers and Friends” repeats June 19 at 1pm, June 24 at 6pm, June 29 at 8pm and July 2 at 1pm.
Source Festival 2011: Lovers and Friends
Produced by The Source Festival
Reviewed by Steven McKnight
Running time: 1 hour 20 min (one intermission)