As duly reported in "Review: Black Box’s One-Act Play Festival", Wave I of the sixth annual Black Box Theatre One-Act Play Festival was pretty much one success after another, well directed by Rich Morra. In the second set of nine short plays, being staged through August 28, a third of them are first-rate and well worth the price of admission, while the rest range in writing from trivial to shaky.
MY NAME IS . . . Chris Ferreira in My Name Is Art.
The three hits strike distinct targets. The standout — the only one not trying to amuse us — is J. Stephen Brantley’s Break.
Abruptly woken up one night is Nigel (Neil Santoro), startled out of bed by a strange man slipping into it. Scott (Tom Chace) is just as surprised, since he thought the occupant of the house was away, as he’d frequently been. Having successfully found the key hidden outside and making a duplicate, homeless Scott has been in the habit of occasionally seeking shelter here. He never took anything except an occasional bit of food that wouldn’t be missed, and Nigel never noticed much besides an occasional item slightly out of place.
In his boyhood, Scott’s mother would sometimes make a point of driving past this lovely beachfront house, so it occupies a special place in his imagination. Unkempt and unshaven, Scott is a junkie who just wants a comfortable place to be alone and go through withdrawal in peace.
Being a Brit, and given a convincing accent by Santoro, Nigel is a stark contrast in his pearl satin pajamas and reticent manner. He’s not unfeeling, so he’s sympathetic to the sordid plight of Scott, who is afflicted with feeling too much and accuses Nigel of being repressed and emotionless. Skillfully acted and directed, a natural ebb and flow of emotions between them keep us deeply interested.
In entertaining contrast is Trace Crawford’s A Couple of Metal Gods. In black leather jackets and headbands are Joe (Mark Carter) and Steve (Christopher Ferreira), who have a heavy metal band. Joe is sitting down with his fellow band boss to discuss adding “a little variety” to their set lists — a ballad, to be specific. Appalled, Steve makes a quick assessment and concludes: “You want to do a love song! All right, who is she?”
But no, it’s not as simple as that. Such ditties as “Die, Pig-Lover, Die!” are to get supplemented, not replaced. If you’re as much a pushover for sight gags as I am, you’ll enjoy Carter and Ferreira playing air guitars like it’s a final competition on American Idol.
A world away in subtlety of amusement is My Name Is Art, by Peter Snoad. The scene packs a knee-slapping final punch, but getting there has its own separate satisfactions. The setting is an art gallery, where Gloria (Allison St. Rock) and Anthony (Alex Rotella), strangers to each other, are examining and commenting on a sprawling modern art sculpture. So far this is the stuff of an acting workshop improv, but soon wonderful things happen.