As the Bloomington Playwrights Project prepares to move from three-twelve South Washington to a space on Ninth Street between Walnut and College they take a loving look back over twenty-five years of productions in a quartet of one acts. They are gathered under the title "Second Helpings" and all directed by Noe Montez.
Appropriately enough, "Second Helpings" begins with a piece from 1987 titled "Graduation Day" by James Serpento. A pair of brothers, the crudely boisterous Jerry, played by Brian Schutz and his more buttoned-down Tom played by Troy Jones, meet on the outskirts of their sister’s high school graduation. The play dramatizes a relationship more combative than collegial, of two men uncomfortably tied together by their history.
From 1979 there’s Jim Poyser’s "Hand on Mirror," with the boldly and explosively laughing Deb Durham and her apartment partner, the inventively dour Patrick Murphree in a duet that’s as much a dual as a partnership.
Doug Bedwell’s entry, "Carry On" from 2003 is the most recent entry in "Second Helpings" at the BPP. In this strangely effecting piece, Amy Wendling and Andrew Rhoda, explore the complicated calculus of what makes a life worth living and a mathmatics where one doesn’t equal one.
The most extensive piece of "Second Helpings" is "Joes’ Friendly" from 1984 by Bruce Gadansky. The setting is an old time garage in the late sixties. The garage is about to be replaced by a gasateria. Carmine DePaolo was masterful as the sympathetic Joe moving smoothly from direct conversation with the audience to being the principal character in the play. In a very funny and quite touching sequence of events Andrew Rhoda played the shy, friendly and slightly shell shocked assistant, Teddy. Amy Wendling was Kitty, the perhaps too friendly girl from the wrong side of the tracks. Troy Jones as the slimey lawyer Denton got a well deserved comeuppance. At the beginning and end of "Joe’s Friendly," Carmine DePaolo talked thoughtfully about the subtle pull and magic of physical and spiritual neighborhoods. As he spoke, I kept seeing the pictures from Hurrican Katrina and understanding a little better some of the words of the survivors.
"Second Helpings" at the Bloomington Playwrights Project is a respectful and respectable final bow for productions at their three-twelve South Washington address. It continues with performances Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at eight and Sundays at two through October first. The first play at 107 West Ninth will be the rowdy "Chicks with Dicks" November third through the nineteenth.