A Review of Casey Robbins “African Spaghetti” as part of “9 x 9” a FOUR PLAY SERIES AT THE EXIT
Artistic Director Steve Bologna founded “Breach Once More” which is series of four new plays by talented professional and semi-professions to present their plays on monthly bases at the Exit Studio on Eddy Street, San Francisco . Steve’s goal was to illuminate the complexities of the human condition as Steve says “It’s an exciting and frightening venture which is in tune with the plays in one season; that is to say exiting and sometimes horrifying.”
I happened to go the Exit Theatre on Friday to see the four plays. The four plays were called “9 x 9” and they ranged in farcical drama to Avant guard plays such as you would find at the Cutting Ball Theatre in San Francisco.
The first play was “African Spaghetti” by Casey Robbins a forty minute farcical drama. Upon entering the intimate theatre there were sounds of monkeys and elephants to get you in mood of Africa. What follows was clever and astute play with excellent natural dialogue of an elderly husband, wife and teen age boy on vacation in Africa. The husband thinks he is a great white hunter and the mother is always complaining. There is also a talking lion in this production as well as a strange maid who spouts poetic speeches while lying outside under the stars.
The cast of Gene Thompson and Susan Melanson who are the husband and wife gave good performances and maid played by Hannah Keller and Joey Prata as the talking lion gave vibrant performance. Casey Roberts Spiegal was outstanding in the role of the teen age son. He has a clear voice for theatre bordering on a Shakespearean actor. He also spouted beautiful lyrical soliloquies at the beginning of the play and at the end of the play. Casey Robbins’s “African Spaghetti” can stand on its own merit. The production was directed by Celestre Conowitch.
The second was a 15 minute drama called “Nasty, Brutish and Short” by Jonathan Spector . This was strictly a Meta physical discussion about 5 persons with a person at a blackboard. I confess I did not what was going on but I suspect it had to do with the order of things. It featured Bryan Mitchell, Susan Melanson, Gene Thompson, Hannah Keller, Joey Prata, Kyle Merryman and Rosie Anderson. They gave thought-provoking performances. This was directed by Sydney Painter.
After the intermission “Black Thursday” was a 20 minute Avant guard drama featuring three persons standing with black masks over their faces while three persons were sitting on a couch watching television. Finally the two persons wearing the mask sat with the family on the couch to watch television while the third person a young man who I assume was a teenager has a romantic fling with a teen age girl. This was attention-grabbing due the cast that consisted of Bryan Mitchell, Susan Melanson, Gene Thompson, Hannah Keller, Joey Prata, Kyle Merryman and Rosie Anderson gave fascinating performance. The whole production reminded of Avant guard plays by Peter Brook or Dimitris Lyacob. This was directed by Casey Robbins.
The last one was “Hue” by Roy Conboy. It was approximately 15 minutes in length and it reminded of Samuel Beckett’s “Texting”. It was beautifully acted by Karla Ormond and Eduardo Esqueda. This was directed by Venus Ke.
All in all it was interesting one hour and 40 minutes with an intermission; the high light being “African Spaghetti”. This was a two day event was at the Exit Theatre, Eddy Street, San Francisco. You can find what is playing at the Exit by going to www.exit.org