Festival of Shorts at Driftwood Players: the aftermath
Driftwood Players presented its annual Festival of Shorts last weekend and along with it presents a challenge.
The challenge is not only to pick the best of eight short plays but also to pick the best as seen through this year’s lens, aftermath.
Each of the plays, never before produced in the US, was selected from hundreds of submissions from around the world – imagine that, in Edmonds! – based on how well it fit the theme of dealing with the aftermath of something or someone.
The shows succeeded to varying degrees, leaving me to weigh both the quality of the show as a show -- a piece of writing -- and the extent to which and the cleverness with which it showcased the theme.
Triumph of Law, in which a pre-Civil War Southern lawyer faces the meaning of his precedent-setting court victory sending runaway slaves back to their master was perhaps the best-acted, best-directed and best-staged but the play itself, as written, failed to move me.
Juliana Pereira and Cindy French generate the biggest laughs of the night playing a pair of rival cubicle mates possibly saying their final goodbyes after an office reorganization in Simmer and Serve Cold. It has comedy and even a little sweetness but did the playwright bring those or did the actors?
Similarly, in The Proxy, a farce in which a woman schemes to smother her husband with a pillow in plain view of his doctor as he (the husband) lays unconscious in a hospital bed after having suffered a heart attack while cheating on her can’t miss in the humor department. It is a hit, of course and well-presented but the material seemed a bit predictable.
Editor's note: The Beacon's crack reviewer of theatre, Patrick Hogan, attended the Festival of Shorts by the Driftwood Players last weekend. The festival only ran one weekend, so we weren't able to publish a review for an upcoming show.
But Hogan wrote an interesting review which many readers will probably find interesting. – Ed.
Checking the Basement for Leaks intentionally dates itself. As it opens, we hear the theme songs of 1970s TV shows All in the Family, Maude and others. The final product here unfortunately is set up to fail in comparison because it can’t compete with the humor or the punch of those shows.
End of Days shows a falling-out between a father and son being exacerbated by the mom’s intervention. We never see the aftermath and it is never really clear what caused the sparks to fly, though fly they do.
Sunday Afternoon is a strong entry, in which a gay male couple begin by discussing the latest scandal in which a local pastor, after preaching homophobia for years, is caught with another man. It’s fascinating to watch the couple’s discussion move from the political to the personal.
At intermission, my favorite was The Obit, a powerful show in which a couple struggles to write the obituary of their son. The mom cannot, even after the young man has passed away, deal with the reality of who he was. Dawn Cornell’s performance as the mom silenced the audience and then brought nervous laughter. Could the mother really be that deep in denial? Could the father really acquiesce? Yes. It’s chilling.
My award, for what it’s worth, goes to Oblivion. Bainbridge Island playwright Paul Lewis has written a creative piece in which a single event impacts each of the two characters in radically different ways.
An American woman, now divorced, revisits Montevideo, Uruguay thirty years after her romantic interlude with a tango instructor. Steve Ruggles embodies the tango instructor’s brother as he reveals what happened after Dawn Cornell’s tourist got back aboard her cruise ship. Quite an aftermath.