Best of Playground 23 a winner at Potrero Stage

BEST OF PLAYGROUND 23. Potrero Stage, 1695 18th Street, San Francisco, CA.  (415) 992-6677 or visit www.PlayGround-sf.org/bestof.    May  9-26, 2019.

Best of Playground 23 a winner at Potrero Stage Rating: ★★★★☆

This is the 25th year that the group named “Playground” has been a progenitor for new playwrights in the Bay Area.  The fledglings are given a topic for a 10 minute play that must be submitted the following week.  Each year plays are selected as the “Best of Playground” and are given a fully produced three-week run by professional and semiprofessional directors and actors. This year’s eclectic choices provided an entertaining and thoughtful evening that should not be missed.

The subject matters of this year’s seven plays are very topical including feminism, climate change, the Mexico –America wall and transgenderism.  Two of the plays utilize anthromorphism and another puts rest the concept that opposites attract each other in meaningful relationships.

Cathleen Riddley and Jed Parasio in Well, Actually by Sam Hurwitt

Feminism gets the most attention with three diverse approaches beginning with Sam Hurwitt’s Well, Actually that takes us back to the time of  Alexander The Great after his army has captured Thebes with the title being ironic. Timoclea, the last surviving member of a prominent Thebes family has thrown her rapist, a military captain into a well. When brought before a supercilious Alexander she remains proud and unrepentant. When she describes the incident the reply of Alexander is after all we are the victors and “there is going to be a bit of that.” Further doing what you did “will contaminate the water.” Her response, “Well, actually. It was a dry well.” Cathleen Riddley gives strong, no nonsense bravado to Timoclea that wins the day.

Feminism is brought up-to-date with the intricate construction in Lauren Gorski’s A Feminist Revisionist History of Rosemary’s Baby based on the novel by Ira Levin and the Roman Polanski directed 1968 movie. Two lesbians suggest rewriting that movie with a feminist’s viewpoint. Gorski then allows the two women to visualize the script and inter-cut the actors as rewrites unfold.  Truisms are scattered within the dialog that is superficially humorous but carry’s a modicum of weight.

(l-R) Caleb Cabrera, Cathleen Riddley, Livia Gomes Demarchi, Angel Adedokun in A Revionist History of Rosemary’s Baby by Lauren Gorski,

The two plays utilizing anthropomorphism are Tom Bruett’s  Just As It Is Today and La Vida Lobo by Linda Amayo-Hassan.  In the former the two “characters” are blue-footed booby birds whose habitat is being destroyed by rising water due to climate change and pollution of the oceans by garbage. With these drastic changes a decision must be made whether it is fair to raise chicks.

Angel Adedokun, Caleb Cabrera in Just As It Is Today

 

(L-R) Jed Parsario, Livia Gomes Demarchi, Caleb Cabrera in La Vida Lobo by Linda A. Sommerfeld

La Vida Lobo is the most active of the plays with Jed Parsario prancing around stage as a young horny Lobo looking for his first fling with a female. He is challenged by older and wiser Pablo and is still able to see a potential mate but is blocked by “the wall.”

Livia Gomes Demarchia, David Stein in The Third Date by Alanna McFall

The Third Date is a two hander by Alanna McFall explores why the third date is so important.  The male part of the duo: “On the first date we’ve got the first impressions out of the way. “  Second date: “We don’t annoy each other.”  Third date: ” “Now is when we decide if we’re good together.” It’s a great start and it only gets better  through some pretty raunchy dialog sort of disproving that opposites attract.

(L-R) Jed Parsario, David Stein in After Hubris by Molly Olis Krost

After Hubris by Molly Olis Krost is the most confusing and intellectual with the two characters representing Icarus and his father Daedalus. It postulates that Icarus has survived his fall and his father is preparing to send him up again with a new pair of wings with the suggestion that he “head for the sun.” Really? There are some very cogent comments on life and art.

(L-R) Catheen Riddley, David Stein, Angel Adedokun ,in Alanna McFall’s Dear Santa

The most poignant play of the evening is Dear Santa by Nic A. Sommerfeld. Twelve year old Maddie is writing to Santa and asks her mother to mail the letter. The father insists she wants “New gear for softball—shoes, batting glove and a bat.” When the mother opens the letter her shocked reaction suggests otherwise and her bond with Maddie is strengthened.

The acting is universally excellent and each maintain the ensemble concept. Selecting one as better than others becomes mute. Director Randrell McCormick earns an extra star for maintaining order in mounting the revision/rewrite of Rosemary’s Baby.

 Running time is about 90 minutes including the intermission and is highly recommended.

This year’s Best of PlayGround directors are: Tessa Corrie, Britney Frazier, Jim Kleinmann, May Liang, Rondrell McCormick, Ely Sonny Orquiza, and Katja Rivera. The acting ensemble is: Angel Adedokun, Caleb Cabrera, Livia Gomes Demarchi*, Jed Parsario*, Cathleen Riddley*, and David O. Stein. Designers include: Brittany Mellerson, Sarah Phykitt, Jessica McGovern, and Lana Palmer. * Member, Actors’ Equity Association.

Kedar K. Adour, MD

Courtesy of www.theatreworlim2.com