[Note: This review was updated Jan 16 after the 10:30 PM closing show of the Festival.]
Michael Neff and Jodi-Paul Wooster organized their first 14/48 Festival in 1997 as a one-time event. Wooster is still at it, and 2 years from now this festival will be old enough to buy alcohol.
[From a previous review of 14/48] “14/48 plays with Chance, Choice, and Performance. For a full description of the process and to view 14/48: The Documentary visit their website. In brief, this is how it rolls: everything that can be randomized, is. The choice of the theme is randomly selected for invitees’ suggestions, seven writers select a random mix of characters to compose their play around, seven directors randomly select which play they will produce with randomly selected actors. The pacing is brutal. The writers turned in their plays 12 hours after the theme was selected, at 8 AM Friday. The directors, casts, costume, musicians, and tech crews rehearse their plays for 12 hours. The preview is the 8 PM show, the Opening Night and closing night performance is the 10:30 show. The 8 PM audience selects the theme for the whole process to be repeated on Saturday. Thus you get fourteen plays in forty-eight hours.”
14/48 has posted their roster of artists here. Take a look to see how many of your favorites are involved.
Here are quick reviews for each of the seven opening night/closing night performances on Sat. Jan 16, 2016. Scroll down for the prior week’s review.
The theme for the close was “Silent but Deadly.” The theme Friday was “Unfinished Business.” The band called itself The Finish Friday night and Hush on Saturday. The band played well, and Heather Ward and Monica Wulzen were terrific as lead vocals.
Nihilism Blues. Writer: Scotto Moore. Director: Kerri Brown-Wooster. Cast: Erin Ison, Jason Sharp, and Laurence Hughes. High school girl whose family moved a lot sort of befriends Gothic Larry. Larry is bored with HS and living. When she gently investigates whether he is suicidal, he counters with a suggestion that she work on a suicide hotline: she could help people over that last little bump and do the deed. She closed by admitting to her dad that with all the moving she’s never bored. Best Lines Spoken while Lying Down.
Clouds. Writer: Matthew Beames. Director: Kelly Kitchens. Cast: Phillip Endicott, Jessica Hird, Jessical Kiely-Danneker, and Raymond Williams. A SciFi play about sentient clouds killing people. A group of 4 people are holed up and debating their chances. There’s a clever few lines about not doing the typically genre trope of debating the causes and likely origins. Then the character that blocked that stands, looked out the window and does exactly that. Best Meta-Comments.
Do Frontier Women Need Husbands? Writer: Jennifer Dice. Director: Stan Shields. Cast: Emma J. Bamford, Andy Buffelen, and Carolyn Marie Monroe. A neighborly pioneer woman raises the delicate issue of the smell of her hostess’s cabin. Then unfolds a tale of loneliness and sin, of grief and seduction. The sinning son of a pious mother becomes a preacher because it “helped him believe if he can shout it out to others.” Best Simulated Sex on a Tombstone.
Noir (If You Are), a Lydia Hampton Mystery. Writer: Keri Healey. Director: Emily Harvey. Cast: Sharon Barton Gouran, Jaryl Draper, David Anthony Lewis, Brandon Ryan, and Alyson Scadron Branner. Delightfully rendered trench-coated film noir riff. At a cocktail party convened by with the wealthy woman who hired the Private Eye, were her fiancé, an infectious disease expert, and the woman’s sister. The wealthy woman proposes a game of Truth, and then asks each to answer: if you were to kill me how would you do it? The fiancé confesses that he would kill her with the “cold indifference in our relationship.” Best use of the Theme: Silent but Deadly.
Stuck on you. Writer: Kellen Conway Blanchard. Director: Neil Reading. Cast: Alyssa Bostwick, D’Arcy Harrison, Rob Jones, and Annie Lareau. In this sketch, a man has responded to OK Cupid profiles. His assistant ushered in two dates, one at a time. The first date he dismissed quickly as he cannot bear artificial scents. The second date had intimacy on her mind, disclosing she debated whether to wear panties or not. And then a few lines later she removed her bra. As they start to make out, he opens his robe to show 8 hairy spider legs! She screams five times before the assistant boinked her on the head and she passed out. Best Screams.
Never Too Late. Writer: Brendan Healy. Director: Brandon J. Simmons. Cast: Jany Bacallao and David Hsieh. On a cold, moonlit night in the Wisconsin woods, a pair of former buddies try to reconnect. But one of them revealed what he knows: at a party during their early years in college his friend had had sex with his 15 year old sister. Instead of saying something, he let the friendship drop. Meanwhile his sister became a drug-abusing mess. For revenge he borrows his friend’s phone as a ruse to frame him as a child pornographer. Best Public Service Play about Rape Culture.
Fruit Anonymous. Writer: Beth Raas Bergquist. Director: Joel Waage. Cast: Deniece Bleha, Amy Danneker, Mark Fullerton, Meaghan Mary Halverson, and Katie McKeller. Various type of defective food attend a Fruit Anonymous meeting. “Hi, my name is Banana and I am defective fruit.” Lemon stirred trouble by calling the pineapple with the hand, the shock-giving vegetable, and the twin-eating fetus freaks and mutants. Then one of the fruits suddenly began to turn to juice, decomposed, and died. The play closed with the rest reciting a recovery prayer about becoming compost for the growth of more healthy fruits and vegetables. Best Play about Mutual Self-Help.
Here’s a quick review of each play written to Saturday’s (Jan 9, 2016) theme of “No Regrets.” Friday nights theme was: “Saved by the bell.” The band named itself “Darth Pussy” and actually did a terrific job providing entertainment during set changes and as musical introductions to some of the plays.
Sound of Silence. Writer: Matt Smith, Director: Tim Hyland. Cast: Kevin Bordi, Eric Mulholland, Alexander Samuels. Lights up with a man sitting behind a desk. All we see is his shoes are off. Another man enters wearing a breathing mask. Ah, they are congressmen from rival parties discussing deals. A third congressman arrives. Eventually they agree that allowing women to speak might save the planet from further pollution and destruction. To test themselves, they have to not speak for 30 seconds. It wasn’t so easy but at the third try they succeeded. Excellent writing and director and acting.
Swap. Writer: Courtney Meaker. Director: Charles Smith Cast: Annette Auger, Jordi Montes, Marty Mukhalian, Peter Dylan O’Connor. Two couples enjoying an adult evening together. The lesbian couple share the mixed trials and pleasures of parenting young children. The childless hetero couple has been considering having children. The idea comes up that maybe the couples could swap roles, permanently. Generally well done, some of the cast could have spoken a bit louder. Project, it’s a big space.
The Coho Face Assault of 2013. Writer: Mike Murphy. Director: Kathryn Stewart. Cast: Amy Escobar, Ayo Tushinde, Kendra Pierce. Setting was a probation hearing to determine if a woman serving 10 years for assault with a frozen Coho salmon should be set free. Free wheeling sample of references to Making a Murderer and Shawshank Redemption. Everything worked well.
The Enchanted Highlands. Writer: Julia Griffin. Director: Charlotte Bond. Cast: Alyson Bedford, Nicole Hodges, Mary Ethel Schmidt, Bob Williams, and Derek Kolluri. This is mostly two couples and a mysterious older woman waiting to get into some type of amusement park. Eventually they do and instead of play acting one of them begins to kill the other gamers. Several stage fights scenes shows the limits of an overnight play as the choreography was clunky. Not one of the better scenes of the evening, but funny nonetheless.
Ghostlight. Writer: Wayne Rawley. Director: Corey McDaniel. Cast: Val Brunetto, Kelly K. Johnson, Brandon Felker, and Kacey Shiflet. What happens when the spirits of the freshly dead bodies in a head-on collision awaken in the morgue and discuss what their interpersonal dynamics were at the moment of impact? One couple, young, hetero, first date, possible an intimate evening ahead, the other pair is an older lesbian couple and one drawing away to feel more freedom and independence. This had the best make-up and costumes of the evening: blood, bruises, and a steering wheel jammed into the chest of one of the lesbian victims.
Knappogue. Writer: Lindsay Carpenter. Director: Cole Hornaday. Cast: Zoey Cane Belyea and Pilar O’Connell. Two young women explore what they want to do as the world counts down the moments until a meteor crashes into the planet. There’s drinking, guilt-free vandalism, and card games. Then time’s up.
Action Figures Sold Separately. Writer: Darian Lindle. Director: Katjana Vadeboncoeur. Cast: Erin Bednarz, Marianna de Fazio, Mike Gibson, Keiko Green, and Larel Ryan. What is the fate of plastic dolls (and we are reminded that action figures are dolls, just relabeled to make it OK for boys to play with them)—plus raggedy Anne and a helmet doll in a car, when they tumble out of a box before a garage sale. Will they find their own journey or wait and risk the luck of learning who their next owners will be. They pulled it off. Kudos to the prop folks for materializing a large toy car on demand. One of the better plays of the evening.
14/48: The World’s Quickest Theater Festival. A 14/48 Project production. ACT Theater: Gregory Falls Theater. Downtown, 700 Union Street. Jan 8, 9, 15, & 16; 8 PM & 10:30 PM. Info: the1448projects.org. Tickets: ACT Theater. Closed Jan 16.