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Arts & Culture

Live Active Cultures

Reviews of Joseph Hayes’ “Slow Ride” and Playwrights’ Round Tables “Summer Shorts”

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Summer is usually time to take things slow, but not for multidisciplinary artist Joseph Hayes, Orlando’s self-described “artistic irritant that creates pearls.” His 13in13 Project (13in13.net) set the “crazy” goal of producing an original work every four weeks in 2013, and last weekend he debuted the eighth, A Slow Ride, a 45-minute single-act slice of life featuring three fractured females.

Jezebel (Jac LeDoux) is an overly emotive ex-hippie grandma whose obsession with numerology and Woodstock-era reminiscences about Grace Slick and Allen Ginsberg may be signs of incipient Alzheimer’s. Also along for the ride are Sue (Wendy Starkand), Jezebel’s exhausted daughter, who feels like a pre-menopausal tarnished penny; and 17-year-old gloomy goth granddaughter Rita (Kate Lockwood), given to dropping pop-culture references (Nine Inch Nails, cyberpunk) that predate her birth.

Hayes’ script steers more toward long, introspective monologues than dramatic action, but his dialogue – which the cast delivered with alacrity – is crisp and quick-witted. Director Sylvia Vicchiullo cleverly utilized College Park’s Downtown Credo coffeehouse, creating audience interaction from before the curtain, and the ensemble did an admirable job making their archetypal roles into relatable characters. The too-soon ending made me wish for a longer journey with these women.

If you missed Hayes’ production but are partial to premieres, Playwrights’ Round Table (theprt.com) still has another weekend of “Summer Shorts” at Shakes for you. PRT’s artistic directors Tara Rewis and Chuck Dent have put together a seven-playlet program without a stated theme, but that repeatedly refers to death in various forms. Here are my mini-reviews:

Graceland by Katie Thayer, directed by Buddy Fales

An elderly Elvis aficionado (Amy Cuccaro) en route to Graceland encounters a suspiciously intuitive waitress (Brittany Davies) in a roadside café. The first half is one long exposition dump, and the main character’s existential conflict is resolved far too quickly, but the actresses’ warm rapport resolves in a sweet ending.

Gamma Day by David Kaplan, directed by David Strauss

Jason (Rob Del Medico) and Rose (Lyndsey Elizabeth) sit in a near-future waiting room, awaiting the activation of their superpowers and debating the ethics of government-sponsored genetic enhancements. Interesting ideas with real-world relevance are in play, although the actors’ interactions feel somewhat unnatural.

One Life by Mark Cornell, directed by Jenny Ornstein

The ordinary life of everyman Luke (Chris Prueitt) is elegiacally narrated from birth to death by personifications of Feeling (Kendra Musselle), Action (Rolando Ramos) and Thought (Sam Waters). Prueitt’s mute pantomime is pitch-perfect, and the trio’s perfectly paced poetry is heartfelt and wistful without becoming cloying, making this my pick for the best piece of the program.

50 Guns by Alex Broun, directed by Keith Charles Traver

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