Combination of Science and Magic in an Imperfect Rapport
Currently running at Theatre off Jackson in the International District, Live Girls Quickies #15, is the 15th year of original short plays by women playwrights about life as females. The unifying theme of the evening was science and magic, which worked well for some of the playwrights, was ignored by others and seemed to derail other scripts.
In previous years, Live Girls Quickies has been one of the high-lights of life as a theatre reviewer, both because of the quality of the scripts as well as the creative choreography involved in the set changes. Although the set changes were delightful to watch, this year’s Live Girls fell short of my expectations. Only three of the seven short plays were coherently written.
Paper and Ink by Maggie Lee, directed by Emma Watt, explored the origin of female madness. Does a pursuit of knowledge lead us to questions which cause mental turmoil? Does heredity cause madness? Is male oppression a cause of madness? What does madness feel like for the person slipping into the arena of the unwell?
Ms. Lee’s script was focused, well-directed and superbly acted by Kasey Harrison, as the less adventurous (and more beautiful) of two Victorian sisters, and Allison Yolo as the more courageous and less stable. In the end, sisterly solidarity and support save each other’s sanity. It all ends on a life-affirming note, after having raised some serious questions about life’s negating experiences: madness and male oppression.
An evening dedicated to Science and Magic would not have been complete without a reference to Harry Potter. Indeed, Kelsey Wilk’s focused script, Taco Spell, contained zippy dialogue when two former American girl students of Hogwarts, accidently meet at a Taco drive-in, here in the US. As they discuss the reasons for their expulsions from Hogwarts, jealousy, bonding and one big secret emerges. In addition, they try to resolve whether or not to abandon witchcraft or become muggles.
Under the brilliant direction of Sam Burris, Nicole Merat as Hillary, shone as a comedienne endowed with spot-on comic timing. It was a pleasure to watch her nail a line with panache as well as watch her physically portray all the discomfort of a late-term pregnant teen-ager. A focused script by the playwright presented a clear conflict to be resolved, amused the audience and added a little spice to the Harry Potter folklore.
Hot, an affectionate and highly amusing script by Anne Eisenburg, followed a trend very common in romantic comedy movies, now that the largest demographic in our society is the aging baby-boomers; that is to say, sexual love between the over 60’s. An older couple, both with grey hair, accidently catch their equally older neighbor having sex with the post-man, through the bedroom window. Gloria, the wife, played by Mary E. Brown, is aroused, but the husband, played by Steven Sterne is bored to death. After various attempts to arouse each other artificially, in the end they put on blind-folds and reminisce about the first time they met. The rest is left to the audience’s imagination.
A lot of credit for the success of Hot, goes to the director Raymond Williams, since the script needed a delicate touch. In the hands of a less competent director, or less competent actors, it might have been yucky and embarrassing, but because the actors played the characters as real people, rather than as caricatures, it was endearingly amusing while making a profound statement about the many stages of love.
Although previous year’s Live Girls shows have been more uniformly entertaining, I have not given up on them. Parking, in fact, is easy (just turn North on Jackson-it is free after 6 pm) and there are excellent restaurants in the neighborhood. In spite of the pillars Theatre off Jackson is a great theatre, the scene changing choreography always entertains the audience.
Live Girls Quickies #15. Live Girls, Produced in Association with Theatre off Jackson at Theatre off Jackson, 409 7th Ave S. International District, Seattle 98104. Friday and Sat 8 PM. www.lgtheatre.org. tickets: www.brownpapertickets.com . Pay-what-you-can May 5th and Thursdays. Thru May 10