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Two Plays about Personal and Professional Struggles at Midtown International Theatre Festival 2007
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Two Plays about Personal and Professional Struggles at Midtown International Theatre Festival 2007

- Backstage with the Playwrights

Midtown International Theatre Festival
Eighth Season
www.midtownfestival.org

Exec. Producer: John Chatterton
Assoc. Producer: Theater Resources Unlimited
Managing Director: Emileena Pedigo
Marketing Director: Bob Ost
Press: Judd Hollander/Cynthia Leathers
Festival Lighting Designer: Gustavo Araoz
Venue Manager, Where Eagles Dare: Sarah Bellin
Venue Manager, WorkShop Theatre: Jonathan Jackson
Venue Manager, WorkShop Theatre: Stephanie Ward
Box Office Managers: Jenny Greeman, Colleen Jasinski
July 16, 2007-August 5, 2007

Two Plays about Personal and Professional Struggles

Patriot Acts
Emerge Theater Company
(Emerge Production Website)
By Marshall Jones, III
Directed by Rico Rosetti
Featuring: Julie Cotton, Deirdre Da Silva, Nick Farco,
Andrew Kaempfer, Asad Khan, Sarah Koestner,
Stacie Lents, Paul O’Connor, Nathan Robinson, Shanti Wesley

And

Stray Dog Hearts
Velocity Theatre Company
(Velocity Production Website)
By Padraic O’Reilly
Directed by Jennifer Gelfer
Featuring: Stephen Jutras, Rainbow Dickerson,
Marc Santa Maria, Kimberly Bailey, Mike DiGiacinto

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
August 6, 2007


Patriot Acts by Marshall Jones III and Stray Dog Hearts by Padraic O’Reilly both deal with severe struggles. Patriot Acts deals with the personal struggles of immigrants, the personal struggles of working under government regulations that one rejects, the personal struggles of betrayal and prosecution, and the professional struggles of two FBI agents trying to arrest their quota of suspects under the new Patriot Act. Stray Dog Hearts deals with the professional struggles of a small book publishing firm, against the fear of buyout and mass marketing standards, the professional struggles of working in an office with a strange dwarf in the room, the struggles of women with the biological clock ticking, and the struggles of a publisher in keeping his office sane.

Patriot Acts is advertised with “…ready to laugh?” under a fast-moving cartoon of what seem to be a cowboy that resembles Bush, two suited execs with sunglasses, a dashing Arab, a dog, a short, pipe-smoking intellectual, and a well-formed woman. I expected a timely political satire, perhaps at least fast-talking social satire, maybe a news device, multi-media that relates to the national dilemmas. Instead, Marshall Jones III has created a loosely joined series of vignettes, with an implausible thread, that are neither satire nor wit, neither timely nor important. In fact, the first scene was truly unpleasant, as the FBI boss seemed to have physically violent habits to get his guys up to speed. These guys, in turn, emotionally and physically tortured suspects, and each scene of interrogation built tension not comedy. The Muslim who sells cell phones scene was literally degrading.

The actors shifted props between vignettes, so much so that the momentum was lost. Not that there was much momentum. The second act included a young woman and her friend tying an ex-boyfriend to his bed and using some over-the-top methods to make him fear imminent gunshots. Just when I hoped for some semblance of political satire, the action became even more trivial, sit-com, and silly. MITF should seek at least two true politically satiric plays next season, especially with national elections close at hand next summer. The US Patriot Act should generate news-driven drama and educated humor. Patriot Acts was neither drama nor humor.


Stray Dog Hearts was, also, often annoying and miss-conceived. There were full wrestling scenes with a dwarf who shifts from American to Irish accents, mid-speaking, as well as a very inebriated and shrill Lila (Kimberly Bailey) who runs off and runs back and then runs off with the dwarf. This short person is actually a fine actor, Stephen Jutras, but the switch of accents was disarming and added to the confusion. Kimberly Bailey, as Lila, who secretly wants a baby, is an artist to watch, a marvelous character actor. Yet, the shrillness in her tone was unfortunately added in the dizzying direction. Rainbow Dickerson, as Brianna, the pregnant receptionist, is persuasive and a good foundation to the shaky scenario. Marc Santa Maria grandstanded too much, and, not his fault, his wrestling scene was creepy. Mike DiGiacinto as the Guard managed his part well. I’d love to see the topic of media moguls and publishing standards handled again in a less disorderly and jarring manner. However, some stars may have been born.



Cast of STRAY DOG HEARTS
Photo courtesy of Kimberly Bailey





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For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at zlokower@bestweb.net