Theater assessment: Expertise a variety of sentiments on the Maine Playwrights Pageant – Press Herald


James Lehr and Mary Fraser in “O’Hare – Gate A4”, by Eddie Adelman Photographs by Bree Candland


Each Elvis Presley and Willy Loman are within the constructing for the 18th annual Maine Playwrights Pageant.

Components of comedy, drama, romance, science fiction and way more additionally make appearances within the intimate confines of the Studio Theater at Portland Stage. It’s all dropped at life by native actors, administrators and designers working with minimal units.

A “committee of native theater professionals” was enlisted by Acorn Productions to kind via the greater than 45 submissions.  The writers had been restricted to eight to 30 minutes for his or her work. Six performs made the ultimate reduce.

Jared Mongeau, Tom Handel, Adam Ferguson and Laura Sacks Morris in “Willy’s Wonderful Journey,” by David Susman.

Danie Connolly’s “Elvis and the Swear Can” bought issues off on a lightweight notice on opening evening as an Elvis impersonator (Hal Cohen), who’s hilariously into the position, makes an attempt to rob a financial institution. Regardless of all of the Presley poses and postures he employs, he’s no match for a stern teller (Deborah Paley) who exacts a value for his use of inappropriate language. As directed by Stephanie Ross, it’s a humorous tackle some values that will, like The King, nonetheless endure.

One other comedian piece additionally gives a tackle modern tradition clashes. Travis G Baker’s “The Retailer” opposes the previous methods of doing enterprise in a pleasant nation retailer with the intrusion of experimental types of AI. The play makes clear that the excellence between Synthetic Intelligence and Synthetic Ignorance might be robust to make.

The dialogue turns into spirited, with a pleasant ensemble really feel, as eccentric characters representing the previous institution, performed by Howard Rosenfield, James Herrera, Heather Murdoch Curry and Rachel Value Cooper, tackle high-tech advocates Seth Berner and JJ Peeler in a confrontation that will finally hinge on the ability of potatoes. The piece is directed by Jared Culverhouse.

Issues get decidedly extra critical in three performs that deal with the impression of loss and disappointment on sympathetic characters.

Thomas Spurr’s “Mr. Puddles’ Final Journey” has a divorced couple assembly to wash out the room of a daughter they’ve misplaced to habit.  Julia Langham and William McDonough III, below the course of Cait Robinson, traverse all of the ups and downs, resentments and responsible emotions of two folks nonetheless within the throes of grief.  It’s a touching glimpse right into a world turned upside-down and inside-out by a tragic occasion and each actors make it all-too-real.

Tom Gostanian and Whip Hubley in “Gloria Anderson,” by Kevin O’Leary

Robinson additionally directed Kevin O’Leary’s “Gloria Anderson,” through which an older man and a youthful man, performed by Whip Hubley and Tom Gostanian, respectively, have a clumsy assembly that will result in a revelation. There’s a wistfulness undergirding the dialogue, significantly from Hubley’s affable recluse, that retains the thriller second to the feelings it comprises.

“O’Hare – Gate A4,” by Eddie Adelman, posits a coincidental assembly of two stranded passengers in an airline terminal. The piece redirects potential romance between characters performed by James Lehr and Mary Fraser right into a broader have a look at private routes not taken however maybe nonetheless open. Fraser is especially good at getting beneath her character’s floor on this piece which Stephanie Ross additionally directed.

“Willy’s Wonderful Journey” brings again the Loman household from the basic “Dying of a Salesman” for a graveyard-set celebration of Willy’s perception into the long run after a while journey. As directed by Hannah Cordes, the model is simply in need of absurd as Laura Sacks Morris, Tom Handel, Jared Mongeau, Adam Ferguson, James Herrera and Tom Gostanian play out creator David Susman’s imaginative and prescient of an America with all these stuffy definitions of success and failure thrown out the window.

For this newest competition, Creative Director Daniel Burson and all concerned have efficiently put collectively a night of latest work that’s considerate, transferring and greater than just a little bit wacky at instances.

Steve Feeney is a contract author who lives in Portland.

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