Review: One Act Play Festival by Phoenix Stage Company at Clockwork

Nancy Sasso Janis

Phoenix Stage Company is holding it's third annual One Act Play Festival "Playfest" this weekend, but this year the short performances are being held at their temporary home, Clockwork Repertory Theatre in Oakville. I was able to attend the casual festival opening on Thursday evening and got to see six plays featuring small but mighty casts of local community theatre actors.

According to PCS partner Ed Bassett, the company put out the call for one act plays and received over 450 submissions. They were narrowed to 25 and each director was given five choices and the freedom to cast the one they chose as they wished. The festival features 18 plays of various genres and the remaining will roll over the next year.

'Irish Stew' by Dramatists Guild member Cary Pepper opened the festival, featuring performances by Beth Steinberg and John Fabbri. PSC partner Ed Bassett directed the story about an aging couple dealing with cognitive issues. Both actors gave believable performances in this sweet and funny piece.

'Duet in Platinum' was written by New York based playwright Allston James and was performed by the luminous Tori Richnavsky as the woman and Mr. Bassett as the man on a long airplane ride. Ms. Richnavsky sported an English accent in the play that dealt with wedding rings and the lack thereof. Lori Poulin directed this piece with love.

'Dancing with the Bears' by Joe Novara of Michigan was a piece about two senior citizens with Timothy Cleary as an aging comedian contemplating an appearance on 'Dancing with the Stars.' Jeff Savage played Vinnie, a retired barber. These two comedy veterans were directed by Donna Storms.

After intermission, Kate Samberg and Frank Beaudry, under the direction of Colleen Renzullo, brought to life 'The Age of Ugly Shoes' by San Francisco's Jeff Carter. The two actors played a couple trying to get ready for a gathering with their friends and it was probably my favorite of the evening.

'A Rebel Among the Wretched' by Andrew Biss was directed by Jonathan Ross and featured the talents of the marvelous Helen Adams as a elderly mother and her long suffering offspring played by KC Ross and Chris Simo-Kinzer. This piece broke the fourth wall and was quite funny.

The final piece was 'Biff Bang, American Hero' and the playwright Ronald V. Micci was in the audience for the performance of his silly and very funny radio play in costume.   John Fabiani directed the piece performed well by Brian Hoerbel as the title character, Jollian Cook as his girl Penny and Anthony Eurillo as the fearless radio announcer. I enjoyed this quirky one act.

The Phoenix Stage Company's Playfest continues Saturday evening at 8:00pm. Plays ranging in length from ten to 30 minutes, comedies, dramas and farces will be performed in this hosted event. SCHEDULE CHANGE - The Sunday performance for the One Act Festival has been cancelled. There are still tickets available for Saturday night's performance. For tickets please call 860-417-2505 or you can purchase at the door. Next up by PSC will be 'Mama Won't Fly' July 11-31.

Here is a complete list of the plays featured in this year’s festival: IRISH STEW by Cary Pepper of San Francisco CA, DUET IN PLATINUM by Allston James of New York NY, BLOOM by John C. Davenport of Seattle WA, A REBEL AMONG THE WRETCHED by Andrew Biss of Philadelphia, PA, THE AGE OF UGLY SHOES by Jeff Carter of San Francisco CA, BIFF BANG, AMERICAN HERO by Ronald V. Micci of Rutherford NJ, EASTSIDE ROULETTE by Burton Swartz of New York NY, EGGS OVER EASY by Rich Rubin of Portland OR, DARN IT, DARLA by Lavinia Roberts of Brooklyn NY, DANCING WITH THE BEARS by Joe Novara of Kalamazoo MI, THE STARLIGHT BALLROOM, by Jim Gordon of Norwalk CT, SPEED BUMPS by Brett Hursey of Farmville VA, THE BOXER AND MARY by Matthew Mutrie, New Hampshire, PSYCHE, WITH AN E by John C. Davenport of Seattle WA, BLACKBIRD by Julian Olf of Sarasota FL, WEDDING BELLES by Brett Hursey of Farmville VA, A THING OF BEAUTY by Michael Edan of Southfield NY, and THE OPERA SINGERS by Matthew Mutrie, New Hampshire.