Climbing to the Highest Level of the PlayGround
I returned to PlayGround again tonight for their season finale of Monday night readings and my 15th show of this year. I’m never disappointed going to see their work and was pleased that tonight’s pacing seemed more leisurely than last month, at least to me. I was genuinely surprised to look at the clock by the end of the show and find that it was the same 90 minute time frame. I’m sure that the length of the performance is actually very carefully planned in advance.
Several local theatre friends were behind the scenes or onstage tonight as actor or director, respectively. My good friends Molly Noble and Ken Sonkin had the two closing plays of the night, and they were definitely among the strongest of the evening. Hard to single out one piece, where they seemed to build on each other. I did feel that the evening’s “Vaudeville” theme was inconsistent, although present in more of a recurring fashion – it seemed that the topic weaved its way in and out of focus in an alternating way through the plays.
Ken’s piece, Can You Tame Wild Wom!n? by Mandy Hodge Rizvi, was an especially canny way to end the evening. Seven women came out onstage and spoofed both the circus and the theatre as the plot unfolded with many subtle twists, turns and elements of physical comedy. Local actress Gwen Loeb, whom I previously saw in a highly memorable 2009 production, worked the audience with a wink in the lead role.
The versatility of local actors is often highly evident in the PlayGround evenings. My friend Cathleen RIddley, whom I first worked with on my first Bay Area production, got to embrace the drama in Brothas Don’t Dance by Philana Omorotionmwan, directed by Molly Noble, a piece that took almost a socio-dramatic look at modern life and physical hardships. Earlier in the evening, local actress Jessica Lynn Carroll seemed to be a totally different person in Mirror to Face by Leah Halper, directed by Katja Rivera, from when I saw her in Boeing Boeing just a few weeks ago.
I could go on, and maybe I will at another time, but for now I will keep it simple: PlayGround is tops!