The Bloomington Playwrights Project is offering a festival of such richness and variety that it beggars description. This beggar will try.
There’s BloomingShorts with six short plays, BloomingDoubleHeader with two one acts, the full length “Colleen and Kudzo,” and for good measure BloomingPlays in the Dark. Much has been written lately about business and technology incubators, programs to encourage and nurture start ups. The Bloomington Playwrights Project Development Series is just such a program for drama.
I’ve been out of town and just managed to catch up with BloomingShorts this past weekend. The six short plays are presented by two alternating teams of actors. Holly Holbrook’s group began the evening with “Maya.” I came to the theatre from watching a Nova show on parallel universes and it was good preparation for Andy Alphonse’s clever opener. There’s a party going on. At least Anna Nickell and Reggie Provine seem to think so. The guests, cruising innocent Nick Johnson and the more cynical Derrick Krober, along with the audience don’t see the other guests, the musicians nor the keg. The cynic leaves, the innocent joins the party, the audience is left to wonder– not who’s right, but who’s made the best choice.
Then Jim Hettmer’s team offered Josie Gingrich’s “Hearing.” Again philosophy and realms of belief were the focus with Emily Goodson as a young wife who’s decided that her own bet about marriage with the older Travis Stannard wasn’t as clever as Pascal’s wager about belief versus atheism.
The first half of BloomingShorts wrapped up with Mike Smith’s “Bernard and Al.” Derick Kroger and Reggie Provine were his Beckett style clowns. It’s a neatly worked out homage with a difference. Smith captures the boredom and the repetition of his inspiration, but his clowns aren’t waiting and their characters aren’t as fixed as the originals from “Waiting for Godot.”
Act two of BloomingShorts opened with “A Terribly Sophisticated Party” by Eric Beckstrom. It was a very nice chance to watch Frank Buczolich at work as the sofa man, a character who gently listens and thoughtfully counsels the lovelorn, Travis Stannard, the nervous, Emily Goodson, the uptight, Thomas Root, and even the party’s host, Amber Turner.
In “That Jazz Girl” by Erin Sullivan Derrick Krober and Nick Johnson were a couple of brothers hanging out at a favorite jazz club. In just a day or two Krober is set to marry a jazz hating, controlling fiancee played by Anna Nickell. The play takes a little too long to make its, point, but it left the audience happy as brother Johnson arranged to get brother Krober back on to a creative life with an old girl friend played by Erin Coon.
The evening wrapped up with Derrick Krober’s “Sexus Revisited.” Frank Buczolich was an over the top drunken, randy touring poet. His host was an uptight philandering professor played by Travis Stannard accompanied by his current student Lolita, Emily Goodson. Complications ensued as the professor finds that the air port news stand operator is an embittered former student flame. The professor lamely attempts to make amends while the poet exits to the john closely followed by Lolita. In the midst of the professor’s efforts, and exhuberant Lolita bursts back onto the stage. It’s hilariously, wildly disheveled Goodson, primally and very amusingly screaming about a tryst on the floor of the men’s room with the poet. It was quite a finale to the evening.
BloomingShorts has two final outings, Friday the 29th at eight and Saturday the 30th at four. It’ll be preceded at two by the one acts of the BloomingDoubleHeader ,followed in the evening at eight with the full length Colleen and Kudzo, and the festival wraps up with BloomingPlays in the Dark at eleven.