Review: Fit to FIT: CrossOver Arts Theatre’s “Dangerous Things on Dark Nights”

Alexandra Bonifield

Some shows just fit FIT. Crossover Theatre Arts’ Dangerous Things on Dark Nights “fits” the bill at the auspicious intersection of mission, mantra and manifestation. Providing a setting for new, unproven playwrights to produce new, unproven, short works exists as one of the way cool assets of FIT (Festival of Independent Theatres), continuing at the Bath House Cultural Center through August 1. The selection committee takes risks in choosing the year’s slate of plays. An expectation of polished, “finished” work doesn’t enter into the picture. Everybody starts somewhere.

“Dangerous Things On Dark Nights” (l to r) Isabella Montague, Maya Pearson, Alexandria Lofton.

“Dangerous Things On Dark Nights” (l to r) Isabella Montague, Maya Pearson, Alexandria Lofton.

CrossOver Arts Theatre involves youth and the community in all their creative endeavors as part of their mission. In producing as their first-time entry into FIT a short play about relationship mishaps penned by a young, aspiring playwright and college sophomore psychology major, CrossOver uses the opportunity to fulfill its mission at FIT to best advantage. Whether Naomi Cohen refines and reworks her play or never writes another one, she will remember and value this experience that honors her honest endeavor. It takes guts and initiative to write a play, particularly one with painful emotions.

Cohen’s play follows three high school best friends as they explore questionable behavior, clash with one another and ultimately move on with separate lives. Cohen primarily uses serial monologue to convey the inner thoughts and feelings of her characters. A format that clashes with a story arc based on interaction, sometimes it works, sometimes not. It tends to make the play static, doesn’t drive action more than a staged reading with music stands would. Yet her characters are clearly realized, believable, interesting individuals, even as they exist in a world of reflection rather than conflict and resolution. What’s the takeaway for the playwright? Hopefully, she will feel inspired to expand and develop the piece into dynamic scenes. Show, not tell. What does each character want? Do they get it? Do they change their minds? Do they surprise themselves and the audience with wisdom that reflects upon the human condition? And what does they audience take away from viewing? Something really fresh, a type of art’s birth.

Acting by Alexandria Lofton, Isabella Montague and Maya Pearson is unaffected and genuine. It’s not polished or “pro”. It “fits” the work’s scope at this time. All high school students at Booker T. Washington School for Performing Arts, these girls will surely remember the summer they got to star in a brand new play at FIT by a former schoolmate as a high point of the summer. Now that constitutes real community engagement. Kudos to Director Dennis Raveneau, Artistic Director of CrossOver Arts Theatre. He gives these aspiring young artists a unique opportunity and directs them kindly with attention to detail and respect. Peer into a corner of their world and cheer them on. It would be only fitting.

CrossOver Arts Theatre’s Dangerous Things on Dark Nights performs again at FIT 5pm July 18, 8pm July 23 and 8pm August 1.

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