Friday, August 14, 2015

An Improbable Peck of Plays

Published in the Weekly Volcano, Aug. 13, 2015
Debbie Sampson, Alayna Chamberland, Christian Carvajal, and Ethan Bujeaud (under the table) in Amenities. Photo by Austin Lang

Aaron Bredlau in Glory, Glory vanish. Photo by Austin Lang

Sara Fiksdal in
Cherry-Flavored Chemistry. Photo by Austin Lang
Eight plays by local playwrights, seven directors, and a dozen actors. What could possibly go wrong? Very little. This cadre of local talent pulled together by Theater Artists Olympia in collaboration with the Northwest Playwrights Alliance is offering a marvelous evening of entertaining one-act plays at the Midnight Sun.
Improbable Peck of Plays Vol. IV is the latest installment in this series, and I’ll go on record right now as saying I hope there will be a volume V, VI, VII, and on and on ad infinitum.
Village of the Sirens written by Sherry Narens and directed by Jackie Nordquist is a poem musically recited by five women — sirens in the Homeric sense who tempt not just with sex appeal but by reciting words signifying desirable qualities/events such as stillness, quiet, comfort, home, sex and so forth. There is a rhythm and a lyrical quality to this that is enticing, and that they memorized the oft-repeated phrases is an amazing feat.
The Restore written by Merridawn Duckler and directed by Lanita Grice was a brilliant idea, but it doesn’t quite work on stage despite some delightful comedic acting by Ethan Bujeaud who plays a living work of art being worked on by the art restorer played by Ellis Tyler-Crowl.
Something More Cheerful by Morgan Picton, directed by Amanda Stevens is a comedy horror show that satirizes politics and show business with Swiftian absurdity. An aspiring actor (Maxwell Schilling) is cast as the President in a something that at first seems to be a movie but then turns out to be real life. Or to put it another way, real life, including the presidency, is a movie cast, written and directed by the Illuminati. Schilling plays the actor well as naïve and overly enthusiastic. Also outstanding as members of the auditioning panel are John Lyons Beck, who reminds me of John Goodman, Aaron Bredlau, who is hilariously over-the-top in this play and in Glory, Glory Vanish (more on that below), Sara Fiksdal and Sara Geiger.
Amenities by Gregory Hirschak, directed by Deane Shellman, with Christian Carvajal, Alayna Chamberland, Debbie Sampson and Ethan Bujeaud, is roll-on-the-floor funny. A couple, Carvajal and his drunken wife (Sampson), are showing off their new condo to a dinner guest (Chamberland). Everything is immense for this wealthy couple, and they are proud of their new home in “The Bohemian” where each unit comes equipped with its own artist. Their artist (Bujeaud) lives under the dining room table.
Sean Raybell is unbelievably powerful and funny as an New England seafarer and Maxwell Shilling plays a wide-eyed hapless college student who encounters him on the docks in The Wisdoming by Gregory Hirschak, directed by Gabriel McClelland.
In Glory, Glory Vanish, written by Eva Suter and directed by Xander Layden, Carvajal plays a Viking who has had “many, many lovers,” and Bredlau is once again outstanding as his buddy, while Bujeaud plays the sincere young Viking who finally has to ask an obviously sensible question that at least temporality pops the fantasy. Carvajal and Bredlau hilariously play the not-so-smart loudmouth braggarts, and Bujeaud is believably down-to-earth.
Schilling stars again at his nerdiest best in Cherry-Flavored Chemistry by Jackie Nordquist, directed by Christopher Rocco. This is a sweet little love story about a pair of loveable chemistry nerds. Fiksdal is oh so loveable as the geeky girlfriend.
The evening ends with the ridiculously funny One for the Chipper by Adam Seidel, directed by Gabriel McClelland in which Carvajal — brilliant again — is a Little League baseball coach giving a pep talk to the worst team in the history of Little League. More than half the team has quite, and it is down to four incompetents: Chamberland, Beck, Raybell and Kadi Burt.
I highly recommend this night of short plays.

Improbable Peck of Plays IV, Thursday through Saturday at 9 p.m. through Aug. 22, 2:30 p.m. Aug. 23, The Midnight Sun, 113 N. Columbia St. Tickets: $15.00 ($16.52 with service fee at brownpapertickets. Available at door night of show or online at, pay what you can tonight (Aug. 13).

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