WARP (Writers and Actors Reading and Performing) Theatre has a noble mission to “facilitate an organic and non-biased gathering for local playwrights, actors, and other artists.” Twice a year it presents a showcase featuring short plays by its members. The current showcase presented nine plays in two acts and included a three-song performance during intermission by Chris LeVaughn.
This is entry level amateur theater so it fairest to review it for the level of passion displayed. I use amateur in the sense it waltzed into English from the French to mean “lover of.” The members and performers of WARP are active lovers of theater—folks with an interest or curiosity to see what they can do with a script or on stage. WARP has been a fixture in the Seattle theater community for nearly 20 years. Newly installed Artistic Director John Paul Sharp and Managing Director Jason Dooley have many ideas that will keep WARP going.
The Charming Ms. Elsa Bubb by Chad Leonard. Etiquette instructor Ms. Elsa Bubb, off her luck after graduating from Yale, is leading classes at a community center. Four of the usual suspects fill the scene: an overly flirtatious young buck, an angry young woman, a police officer who needs to learn some manners, and a man who flits about like a moth. Once she abandons acting politely herself she manages to wring tearful confessions from every member of the group. I found the script had too many cliches and the direction had Ms. Bubb addressing the audience and not the other actors.
Shhh! by Donna van Norman. A couple and a single man try to watch the latest James Bond movie when a late ticket holder interrupts them to find her seat. Right away the latecomer’s cell rings and she takes the call. From the sound of it she’s an escort and is taking calls from potential clients. The others try to discourage her from taking calls and talking over the movie. It’s a clever premise for a sketch and the resolution is up-to-date. This sketch played well and the performers were intelligible and funny.
The Chocolate Center by Scot Bastian. This is a monologue of a grand-daughter’s visit with her grandfather. He is in a wheel chair and silent throughout the piece. The grand-daughter recounts several scenes or activities they once shared. She asks does he remember? until she has to leave. This is a poignant sketch about memory, connection, and love.
The Boss’s Party by Leonard Goodisman. Two former office lovers cross paths on their way to their boss’s party. This sketch had four people standing in place and saying their lines. It’s a one joke sketch, so there a lot of repetition to fill the time.
Homeward Bound by Kenny Wright. This scene closed the first act. A male crossdresser in a 15 year relationship with a woman has to reckon with the surprise arrival of his father. He freaks out because he has never disclosed this part of his life to his conservative parents. The close of this play was heartwarming but this script also suffered from too many repetitions.
Dignity, Why So Elusive? by Alex Sites. When a couple of former best buds unintentionally cross paths in a Chicago gallery they replay for one another their romantic crises from 15 years ago. Each knows much about the other. One of the better skits of the evening.
Just Business by Jim Fox. Another script that kept the plot moving. The title, of course, is a play on the “strictly business” catchphrase from The Godfather movies. An old woman has recruited a hit team to even matters pertaining to the death of her son while he was in service to The Boss. When the hit team find out who The Boss is they think he’s too well protected and try to see if she will accept a hit on his consigliere (advisor) instead. Funny.
The River by Patty Carlson. Some people have unusual romantic kinks. In this tale of attraction, a woman falls for convicts and visits them in prison. This harkens back to her childhood of weekly visits to see her grandfather who was serving a life sentence. The man she loves now is in the slammer for killing his boss after being fired for no reason at all.
AVATARS by Ellen Covey. Covey is transitioning out of her role as the director of WARP so it is heartening to see that she is still involved and contributing. In this clever sketch, a man and a woman in the non-too-distant future engage each other in cyberspace via their younger, sexier, more athletic avatars. An earthquake collapses the walls separating them and suddenly they recognize one another in the flesh. Funny and intelligent.
Ashleigh Robb is the featured visual artist and the musical talent during intermissions are Chris LaVaughn (10/31 & 11/1), Waking Things (11/7 & 11/8) and Phinehas (11/14 & 11/15).
MetaWARPhosis, biannual showcase featuring 9 short plays. Produced by WARP Theatre. Runtime 2 hours, 15 minutes with one intermission. Theatre for Puget Sound Theater 4, Seattle Center, 305 Harrison St., Armory Building — Fourth Floor. Sat at 8 PM; Sun at 2 PM. Tickets at warptheatre.org. Show runs Oct 31 – Nov 15.