|Byron Lambie and Alexa Chipman in â€śFrancis and Sophyâ€ť as part of the Fringe of Marin, Program One. Photo by David Hirzel
On Nov. 12, Artistic Director Annette Lust welcomed us to the 26th season of the Fringe of Marin, a festival of new Bay Area one-act plays and solos! Program One consists of three plays and three solo performances. Alternating with Program Two, both are currently running at Dominican University of California.
Opening Program One is David Hirzelâ€™s â€śFrancis and Sophy: A Victorian Romance,â€ť an imagined 1845 encounter (based on a true story) between historical figures Captain Francis Crozier (Byron Lambie) and his intended bride Sophy Cracroft (Alexa Chipman). Though Sophy declines the Captainâ€™s marriage proposal (before he leaves on a dangerous exploration of the Arctic wilderness), she inspires him with two letters, one to open in six months and another a year later, knowing his ship would still be frozen in the ice of the Northwest Passage.
Lambie gives a heartfelt performance as the Captain, and Chipman is a vision of loveliness as Sophy in a beautiful peach Victorian gown (which she designed and made herself). Sound effects (also designed by Chipman) are especially good as is author Hirzelâ€™s direction of the two contrasting scenes.
â€śA Writerâ€™s Dilemmaâ€ť is written and performed by Judy Baldassari and directed by Suresa Dundes. Baldassari has wonderful facial expressions and especially good eye contact with the audience. She speaks about writing being a mixed blessing as she moves along roads of self discovery. She comes face to face with her own fears and provides a good analysis of her true feelings.
â€śLine Load,â€ť written and performed by Steve North, closes the first half of Program One. North is a superb solo performer! His timing and imagery are perfect, and he could give a wonderful workshop on The Art of the Solo Performer.
Opening the second half, â€śLights, Camera, Loveâ€¦.â€ť is written and directed by George Dykstra. Harold Delinsky enters as a cameraman and sets up the scene. Obreanna McReynolds delightfully plays three different women who speak to the camera about what women want in a man, and Ross Turner plays two contrasting men in a very professional performance. Both actors have great timing and seem so very natural in front of the camera.
â€śWith Held,â€ť written and performed by Jeremy Julian Greco, is the third solo performance. A true story of an artist named John Held (played by author Greco) who speaks about what everyday life is like for contemporary artists. His energy and stage presence are top notch, but I could not relate with his material.
Last but not least is â€śA Thief with Principle,â€ť written, directed and starring Harry Diavatis, who is very natural as Bernie, a mortgage broker with a Cadillac. I had the pleasure of seeing two different actors playing the thief. On Nov. 12, Dal Burns played it with a British upper lip and much humor; and on Nov. 14, Nathan Day performed with particularly good chemistry opposite Diavatis. This play has real substance and leaves you questioning who is really the thief.
Fringe of Marin, Program One continues Nov. 20 and Dec. 4 (Saturday 7:30pm) and Nov. 21 (Sunday 2pm) Meadowlands Assembly Hall, Dominican University, 50 Acacia, San Rafael. Tickets ($10 to $18) call (415) 673-3131 or at fringeofmarin.com.
Moonlight Sheds Light on Fringe of Marin, Program Two
The Fall 2010 Fringe of Marin presents 13 new plays and solos in two programs, thanks to the tireless energy of Dr. Annette Lust, Artistic Director and Festival Coordinator. And one of the plays will be selected by a jury of Bay Area theatre critics for a $100 Best Play award. Program Two includes 6 plays and 1 solo performance, running in repertory with Program One at Dominican University of California.
Opening Program Two is â€śMoonlight,â€ť written by Ruth Kirschner, who recently won The Best Fringe Short Play Award from the 2010 SF Fringe Festival. Imaginatively directed by Linda Ayres-Frederick, mother Arley (superb performance by Miriam Chase) and her teenaged daughter Ellie (delightfully portrayed by Heidi Wolff) search for costumes to wear on Halloween. They both look at the moon and reflect on lost experiences.
Next up, â€śEmily and Walt,â€ť written by Carol Hochberg and also sensitively directed by Linda Ayres-Frederick, involves an imagined meeting between Emily Dickinson and Walt Whitman. Heidi Wolff plays the shy and aloof Emily. Miriam Chase plays her sister Lavinia in a comedic fashion, and Raul R. Rubio gives a bravura performance as Walt Whitman, the complete antithesis of the reclusive Emily.
â€śWhat Do We Do With the Coffin?,â€ť a comedy written and directed by Carol Sheldon, closes the first half of Program Two, and much of this farce is true. (â€śDonâ€™t Just Lie Thereâ€ť was produced at the Marin Fringe a few years ago with a real coffin borrowed for the production where the mortician was busted for the same reasons revealed in this play.) In on the fun are Carol Eggers, Crystal Nezgoda, Stuart Chappell, Roger Marquis and David Klein.
â€śScramble Timeâ€ť opens the second half, a light comedy written by Shirley King and cleverly directed by Robin Schild. In a garage, businesslike stewardess Kelly tries to control people as if they were passengers on an airplane, including businessman Jason (smoothly performed by Monty Paulson) and Gracie (Crystal Nezgoda giving a second comedic performance), a woman kept from going to the bathroom for five hours.
â€śA Magical Trio: The Movies of my Mindâ€ť are three beautiful monologues written and performed by magician Michael Belitsos. â€śThe Paradise Programâ€ť is a dream about three personal books with soothing classical music in the background. â€śRed Silk Memoryâ€ť is about his grandfather who was a magician. And â€śMartini-In the Newsâ€ť involves a trip to Paris. A hauntingly beautiful performance.
â€śHealing Court,â€ť written by Micheline Birger and fabulously directed by Suzanne Birrell, brings back Crystal Nezgoda as a mixed-up girl in search of herself. Scott Zanassi is a wise Judge Guru who tries to help her become an integrated personality.
â€śThe Story of Oh (Revised and Abridged),â€ť a comedy written and directed by Jim Colgan, closes Program Two with amusing performances by Racheal Denny, Simon Patten, Rana Kangas-Kent and Conrad Cady where the word â€śOhâ€ť is used to mean many different things.
Fringe of Marin, Program Two continues Nov. 19 and Dec. 3 (Friday 7:30pm), Nov. 20 (Saturday 2pm) and Dec. 5 (Sunday 2pm) at Meadowlands Assembly Hall, Dominican University, 50 Acacia, San Rafael. Tickets ($10 to $18) call (415) 673-3131 or at fringeofmarin.com.