• THEATRE REVIEW

      "Nine Winning One Acts" at Lonny Chapman Theater in NoHo (Photo - Doug Engalla).

      “Nine Winning One Acts” at Lonny Chapman Theater in NoHo (Photo – Doug Engalla).

      The Group Rep at the Lonny Chapman Theater presents its second one-act play competition. From 150 entries they selected 9 winners, presented consecutively in one viewing. I was impressed with the variety and quality of the story lines, actors, sets, and the emotional impact of the plays. The range of subjects, from future fantasy to mystery to intrigue to comedy, was wide, the pace was steady, and the roller-coaster of emotions evoked by the various presentations was nonstop, thanks to expert staging and swift, seamless transitioning from one play to the next. All of the plays were well-written and acted and earned their “winner” badge when presented on stage.

      By Carol Edger Germain

      The futuristic dark humor of the opening play, “The Assessment” reminded me of a minimalist take on the overpopulation plague themes of “Logan’s Run” or “Soylent Green” and the suicidal couple (Diane Frank and Lloyd Pedersen) were quite charming, under the circumstances. Two of my favorites impressed me with their emotional depth and the fact that both made me cry. First, “Crosscut,” (which I also enjoyed because it takes place in a lonely, nearly empty diner late and night) but also because of the intense final scene where I figured out the relationships among the three characters (Deborah Dominguez, Robert McCollum and Paul Sobrepena) and my heart ached for them. Although there’s a slight chance my interpretation was wrong or different than what others thought, it really doesn’t matter, it works. Also, “Jimmie and Ruthie…and Mommy…and Me,” where you see how someone with great potential on a normal path to adulthood has the love, trust, and security pulled out from under them with no recourse and retreats into a plastic persona. Watching Vesna Tolomanoska as Chrissie tell her story as her physical appearance morphs into her protective stage self was riveting.

      "Nine Winning One Acts" at Lonny Chapman Theater (Photo - Doug Engalla)

      “Nine Winning One Acts” at Lonny Chapman Theater (Photo – Doug Engalla)

      You also get “The White Dress,” where a photographer is taking pictures of benches but a panicked bride is ruining his shot; “The Crass Menagerie,” where people are saying what maybe should have been kept in their heads; “Hooking Up,” with an entertaining twist on internet dating; “Just That Sort of Day,” with a mother telling her son he’s gay and assisting him in getting over the break-up with his girlfriend; “Roadside Alice,” with other-worldly guidance on following your dream; and finally, “I Wish the Voices in My Head Would Stop Yelling Long Enough to Let Me Say “I Love You” – which takes place at the “Buchanan School for Excessively Bright Weirdos,” three totally awkward high schoolers discuss their issues, and crushes, with the encouragement of the Assistant Principal, get ready for some creative guidance.

      All-in-all a wonderfully satisfying afternoon of entertainment. Also note that it’s in the upstairs black box theater, only about 40 seats at the Lonny Chapman Theater, so everyone is “up close and personal,” like these folks are in your living room. I am hoping to work one more viewing of this delight into my personal schedule. There are only three remaining dates left, catch it if you can, you won’t be disappointed.

      Nine Winning One Acts
      (The 37 seat Upstairs theater has comfortable permanent seating, AC/Heat and a restroom. The facility is not handicapped accessible.)
      Lonny Chapman Theatre
      10900 Burbank Blvd., Burbank, CA 91601.

      • May 13, 2018: 7:00 pm; May 19: 2:00 pm; May 20 7:00 pm.
      • General Admission: $20, $17 for students and seniors.
      (Discount tickets for some dates at goldstar.com).
      • Buy tickets here.


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