Category Archive for: ‘Flora Lynn Isaacson’

2014 Spring Fringe of Marin—Program II

 Ricky Montes as Jason and Micah Coate as Amelia in Let Me Go, in Program II at the Fringe of Marin

 Rating: ★★★★☆ (4/5 stars)

The Fringe of Marin now celebrates its 33rd season with some of the most innovative work of San Francisco Bay Area playwrights, directors and actors.

The Festival was established by Dr. Annette Lust in 1995, Professor Emerita at Dominican University. She ran the Festival until her death in February, 2013.  Last spring, Gina Pandiani, a 1985 Dominican graduate stepped in as Managing Director with Production Manager, Pamela Rand—and so the Festival continues on.

This review centers on Program II consisting of four plays and one solo performance.  Program II opened with Tuesdays in the Park with River Apple by C.J. Erlich and directed by Robin Schild, who has directed many plays for the Fringe over the years.  Mr. Schild has a flair for comedy in this satirical look at motherhood as four young mothers meet while watching their toddlers.

Claudia Rosa gives an amazing performance as Zsusanna, who is new to the city and the mother of 4-year-old River Apple.  New to full-time motherhood, she tries to juggle her various roles.  Ms. Rosa uses very expressive body language throughout. She is ably supported by three other young mothers..  Gigi Benson (Jessica) gives a very animated performance.  Colette Gunn plays Abby, a sympathetic role and Victoria Vann is Isham, who is very shy.  Micah Coate makes a sexy entrance as Lark, a nanny to the children.  This light satirical play was followed by The Next Big Thing by Robert Wanderman and directed by Pamela Rand.

The Next Big Thing is “vulture capitalism.”  When the owner’s hands are in the crapper, vulture sweeps in and swallows and turns it about.  Jeffrey Schmidt as Abe knows how to take the stage and gives a convincing performance along with Victoria Vann as Casey and Duncan Maddox as Bill.

Let Me Go, written by Shai Regan is next on the program. The play is very sensitively directed by Gary Green.  In this amazing play, Amelia, played by Micah Coate learns how to deal with posttraumatic stress with the help of her fiancée Jason played by Ricky Montes, after she sees him attacked.

The second half of the program opens with Jinshin Jiko written by Bridgette Dutta Portman and directed by Amy Crumpacker with Sheila Devitt as Assistant Director. This play takes place on a train. The expressions and body language of the passengers are brilliantly choreographed. Morgan, an uptight businesswoman (Chelsea Zephyr) is hysterical when the train is stalled and she has a presentation to make. She imagines A Japanese Woman, Yurei (Mimu Tsujimura) is attacking her.  The other people on the train are Sheila Devitt, a Dutch woman, Vonn Scott Bair, a Dutch man, RJ Castaneda, a Japanese man and Sam Tillis as Kenneth.

The final play of the program is a full-scale production, Little Moscow written by Aleks Merilo and directed by Greg Young starring Rick Roitinger as the Tailor.  This play employs a complete set of the shop of the tailor and projections on the back wall of places and people about which the Tailor speaks.  This is a real tour de force for Rick Roitinger as an aging, Russian immigrant tailor whose recollections of man’s crimes against humanity and a father’s love for his country conflict with his love for his daughter.

What a wealth of talent in Program II! The only fly in the ointment was the poor acoustics of Angelico Concert Hall at Dominican University. This could be improved with a sound system or the actors could have mikes as much of the dialog was lost.

The Spring Fringe of Marin Festival plays one more weekend at Angelico Concert Hall, Dominican University, 20 Olive Avenue, San Rafael, CA.

Program I plays Saturday-Sunday, May 31-June 1 at 2 p.m. Program II runs Friday-Saturday, May 30-31 at 7:30 p.m.

Flora Lynn Isaacson

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