Part of the Women’s Voices Theater Festival, Love Is A Blue Tick Hound gives us not one play but four by local playwright Audrey Cefaly. These mini one-acts are but a half hour long each, yet so skillfully written that the depths of each character shines through. The playlets transverse a theme, though they don’t share characters: each is an entity unto itself, with separate two-actor casts, and all are directed by different directors. It’s a smorgasbord that, served as a whole, makes for a tasty, fun, and thoughtful evening.
The first playlet, “Fin & Euba”, directed by Donna Ibale, with Carolyn Koch as Fin and Lauren Erica Jackson as Euba, finds two roommates who meet in their landlady’s gnome-infested garden for a smoke. Whimsical bunnies and cement animals serve as a stark counterpoint to their dull lives, yet Euba has a possible way out. To open the letter from Life Magazine or not becomes a tug of war with the two, and a tug of war with dreams themselves versus reality. Does it contain a job offer or a dream-killing rejection form?
The second playlet, “Clean”, directed by Lee Conderacci and featuring Betse Lyons as Lina and Justin Johnson as Roberto, is far and away the best piece of the evening. The two fine actors account for much of this- in particular, Lyons as Lina. Lina’s a wisecracking waitress who begins the play flat on her back, both as a metaphor for her life and because she’s just slipped on the floor she mopped. Justin Johnson is equally fine as Roberto, the Italian dishwasher who discovers her on the floor. Much of the first few minutes of the play has Lyons prone on her back, delivering her lines to the ceiling; she’s fed up with her life and doesn’t care who knows it, and we’re in her corner from the get-go.
What we see before she does is that Roberto is head over heels for her, and the blossoming romance between them is sweet and perfectly ordinary and quite extraordinary. Johnson has a limber comedic presence, and Lyons has a beauty all her own, and within minutes, they’re sparring like an old married couple. A simple, funny and affecting love story in fifteen minutes, thanks to a mop.
Moral: landing on the floor can give you a new perspective– and a brand new reason for getting up off that floor.
After a short intermission, the third playlet, “The Gulf”, directed by Betse Lyons and featuring Donna Ibale as Kendra and Aladrian C Wetzel as Betty, is unfortunately the weakest piece of the evening, though it’s still good in an evening of very good plays.
Two lovers at odds with each other’s life goals are stuck with each other on a fishing trip- but the pacing is static and Wetzel has an unfortunate habit of delivering many of her lines to the floor, making her dialogue difficult to decipher. The chemistry of the two women is off as well- the script gives them almost nothing in common, for starters, making one wonder why they’re together at all. Still, it’s funny, in an Odd Couple way, and many of the lines will resonate with anyone who’s ever tried to change their partner.
A betrayal surfaces, a fight ensues, and someone’s in the water when all’s said and done, but the following make-up feels forced. We get the message- accept who you love for who they are.
The last piece, “Stuck,” feels the most timely. Directed by Lauren Erica Jackson, with Mike Smith as Bob and Lee Conderacci as Maggie, shows us dating in the year Right Now. Having met online, this is Bob and Maggie’s second date- the first was an informal coffeehouse meetup- but Maggie moves way too fast for Bob and it’s genuinely funny.
As Bob, Smith has by far the best lines, with many of them delivered when Maggie’s not even in the room. He’s tremendously funny, and seeing him writhe on a chair after having his ear pierced is worth the price of admission alone. Lee Conderacci as Maggie is a real whack job- but one with a heart, and feelings and fears that are all too familiar to anyone who’s ever gone out on a limb to make a good first impression.
Love Is a Blue Tick Hound
Baltimore Theatre Project
closes January 21, 2018
Details and tickets
Logan Fringe Arts Space
February 9 – 17, 2018
Details and tickets
It would be easy to see these two head for opposite exits, but wonder of wonder, they don’t; these interestingly broken people become not a singular whole, but instead begin to stay with each other- still broken- together. It’s a nice rumination on love as-found and as-is.
And that’s really the crux of Love Is A Blue Tick Hound: being loved for who you are, rather than who you’d like to be or who your lover would like you to be. Small plays, small drama, big idea. And a helluva fun evening.
Love Is A Blue Tick Hound, 4 short plays by Audrey Cefaly
“Fin & Euba”: Directed by Donna Ibale , Cast Carolyn Koch as Fin, Lauren Erica Jackson as Euba
“Clean”: Diredcted by Lee Conderacci, Betse Lyons as Lina, Justin Johnson as Roberto
“The Gulf”: Directed by Betse Lyons, Donna Ibale as Kendra, Aladrian C Wetzel as Betty
“Stuck”: Directed by Lauren Erica Jackson, Mike Smith as Bob, Lee Conderacci as Maggie
The Staff : Artistic Director Lance Bankerd; Managing Director, Max Garner; Associate Producer, Meredith Barr; Stage Manager Cyndy Cohn; Fight Choreographer, Allison Bloechl; Scenic Designer Reese Siedlecki; Costume Designer Deanna Fisher Brill; Lighting Designer Alan Sean Weeks; Sound Designer Max Garner . Produced by Rapid Lemon Productions . Reviewed by Jill Kyle-Keith.