Twelve Maine plays in Acorn’s festival

Homegrown dozen
By MEGAN GRUMBLING  |  May 3, 2013


GOING LITERAL Rope Trick's metaphor is pretty obvious.

It's time once again for Acorn Productions' annual celebration of the playwrights living among us. As in previous years, the Twelfth Annual Maine Playwrights Festival features two evening programs of short plays, this year numbering twelve. Last weekend also saw the staged reading of one full-length play, Cullen McGough's Want/Not; and an evening called Take Two, in which short monologues are presented twice, with different actors and directors. The festival will wrap up on May 5 with an array of theater artists under the gun for the all-night adventure of the 24-Hour Theater Project.

Program A, which runs for one more night on Sunday, bears the header "Beating the Odds" (and features alarmingly loud topical pop songs between plays). It opens with Michael Tooher's Rope Trick, in which a He (Tristan Rolfe) and She (Elizabeth Lardie), bedecked in camo, tug on a brazenly allegorical rope. The dialogue between them, abbreviated and childlike, moves perhaps a bit too slowly to the entrance of the Writer (Evadne Bryan-Perkins, in a very funny send-up), who informs them that they are her "constructs." What happens from there feels a little timeworn, but is, in the same sense, a classic device.

Holly Belle, by Sarah Paget, is a local-color drama set on a Maine island. Holly Belle is the name both of a young divorcee (Kara Haupt) and the boat that belonged to her dead father, still mourned by her mother, Nadine (Pamela Chabora). The boat has been sold to a young widower lobsterman, Lucas Eaton (Josh Brassard), much to Nadine's distress, but the three find unexpected connection. Paget draws Nadine's stubborn grief lyrically and sympathetically, and the play maintains a tone of wistful optimism, though her dead lobsterman's character is revealed through somewhat weighty exposition.

In Roger Clark Van Deusen's Slunkerfish, the fishing has considerably less verisimilitude. Angston (Cory King) and Hewitt (Randall Tuttle) are fishing on the Portland pier (though Tuttle's Hewitt seems more Bayou than Peninsula) when Angston catches the ominous titular fish. Things devolve from there for poor Angston, paralleled by the oblivious Hewitt's ichthyic folklore. The story is slight by nature, and sometimes the creative profanity feels a little forced, but at its best, the dialogue leaps entertainingly as the men talk past each other, and King's antics are great.

Memories of Paradise, by Bruce Pratt, is a more serious two-hander, launching from the interesting conceit of high school football buddies Alex (Randall Tuttle) and Mike (Josh Brassard). Alex is now the high school's football coach, and Mike's kid is the starting quarterback; the two grown men quibble not only over coaching strategies, but also the deep past. The characters both have depth and a banter that degenerates nicely, and though the plotline gets a little cluttered, Pratt's is an interesting conceit: how adolescence brings itself to bear on the dynamics of ostensible grownups.

Halo, by Hal Cohen, is a monologue featuring Patricia Mew (who is excellent here) as a Physician at a podium, narrating a harrowing experience treating an asthmatic child. The story launches with some interesting narrative leaps, and is richly detailed (with perhaps even a surplus of medical procedurals). The doctor initially presents some interesting asides of rude arrogance that would be compelling to follow up on, as would be the actual circumstances framing her telling of the tale.

1  |  2  |   next >
  Topics: Theater , Acorn Productions
| More

Most Popular
Share this entry with Delicious
  •   WHEN LIFE HANDS YOU FABRIC  |  October 01, 2014
    One of the risks of being raised on PBS children’s programming, apparently, is the realization that one is not as special or as destined for greatness, in the grown-up world, as Big Bird seemed to let on.
  •   IT'S GOOD TO BE WITCH  |  September 19, 2014
    Trapped, suppressed, and unsatisfied with the small-mindedness of their small New England town, what are three divorcées of scandalous creative powers to do?
  •   PREPARE FOR THE FALL  |  September 18, 2014
    The season of theater at USM, Good Theater, Mad Horse, Portland Stage Company, and many more.
  •   TAKING CENTER STAGE  |  September 03, 2014
    “I’ve always loved hidden treasures,” says Michael Levine, founding artistic director of Acorn Productions, as he climbs the stairs to the third-floor ballroom of Mechanics Hall, a gem of a historic space concealed in plain sight right on Congress Street.
  •   BARN FULL OF WONDER  |  August 31, 2014
    Although summer is winding down, there’s still time for this summery, feel-good theatrical throwback to simpler times.

 See all articles by: MEGAN GRUMBLING