by Ed Malin · June 5, 2015
Shyko Amos, Mike Smith Rivera | Gerry Goodstein
Series B of Ensemble Studio Theatre’s 35th Marathon of One-Act Plays invites you to come home. Is home a happy place? Is yours a home away from home? Would jail be better, or someone else’s life, or anarchy? You’ll find out, and you’ll like it.
Let's All Agree To Pretend This Never Happened by Emma Goidel, directed by Abigail Zealey Bess is a delightful multi-perspective story about a Siberian science team who love not wisely but too well. Liz (Polly Lee) has brought her devoted boyfriend Andrew (Jonathan Randell Silver) to the frozen waste to help her study cryophilic microscopic creatures. What is trapped in the ice, besides their scheming team? Andrew complains that he wants more credit for his work; who remembers Matthew Henson, assistant-discoverer of the North Pole? Meanwhile, Liz and Maya (Shyko Amos) plan to “discover” a virus long imprisoned in the melting ice, which will compel the world to take notice of global warming. What could go wrong? Ask fellow scientist Lincoln (Mike Smith Rivera), who’s sleeping with both of the women and, like all of them, believes he knows what’s going on. The future of humanity may depend on them talking their way out of their hilarious, well-intentioned plot.
John, Who’s Here From Cambridge by Martyna Majok, directed by Nick Leavens takes place in the home of wheelchair-bound PhD candidate John (Gregg Mozgala), who has hired Jess (Paola Lázaro-Muñoz) to help him bathe and dress. John has all his marbles; he thinks referring to him as “differently able” is just “retarded”. Jess is a graduate of their unnamed university, clearly a place for smart people. And so the two get to know each other, admitting it is easy to judge people based on appearances. But will one of them make another assumption, let their guard down, and get hurt? The acting here was dignified and mind-opening.
The Hour Of All Things by Caridad Svich, directed by William Carden is a monologue by Nic (Miriam Silverman) about one life-changing day. Nic is preparing for a march in solidarity with the oppressed folks in an unnamed southern country. Before she gets there, her mind questions Late Capitalism as she is standing in a supermarket queue, whereupon she starts crying and is treated patronizingly by those in charge. When marching, she’s all for gestures but is not sure lawlessness will solve anything. But then there’s tear gas, and, ultimately, visions. This story is beautifully written and bravely told.
The routine bedtime ritual of Cora (Dawn McGee) and Dave (Jack Sochet) is explored in Cora And Dave Are Getting Older by Julia Cho, directed by Marcia Jean Kurtz. The couple, who are on the verge of their tenth wedding anniversary, have come back from a dinner for their best friends. Cora has always been in awe of her former college roommate and her husband. They are so perfect, they go on vacation to the Seychelles. Lacking any native population to disadvantage, this destination can be enjoyed with a clear conscience. Her friend even has a complete wardrobe of matching bras and panties. On and on Cora goes, while Dave falls asleep. It can be lonely praising your friends and fearing they make you redundant. But Dave is not asleep. Dave sees all. Dave knows what to say, and Cora knows how to hear him, and they really are the best couple ever.
Series B cleverly shows how hard it is to break free, and what happens if you do. Why do we want what we want? Why shouldn’t we? It’s a grand combination of four very different, fabulous pieces with subtle symmetry. I can’t wait to see Series C.