by TOM WELCH
Special to the Sounder
Ten minutes can go by in a flash, unremarkable and mostly unremembered much of the time. But each of the 10-minute plays presented at the Eighth Annual PlayFest by the Actors Theater of Orcas Island this weekend will stay with you for a much, much longer time. Fifty local actors, playwrights, and directors have created seven short plays that touch on human foibles, conditions, and expectations in ways that you simply can’t deal with in a mere 10 minutes. If more is less, then these plays embody the opposite beautifully.
James Wolf’s “The Palm Reader” opens PlayFest with a barefoot Cara Russell as a gentle palm reader easily interacting with Thian Armenia, a young neighbor boy, over that simplest of boy toys, a pretend gun. Patty Monaco’s artful direction lets them explore possibilities that open different doors from a simple reality, and show us that there are many choices.
Playwright Jackie Bates has been to more than one garage sale, and “Yard Sale” has a lot more to offer than one couple’s extra “stuff.” Audrey Nedderman is the angry wife disposing of the remnants of a marriage, with Nate Feder as the husband whose tools can’t fix what is broken. Gillian Smith is effective as the agent of the breakup that Tom Fiscus, with a simple question, shows may just be repairable after all. The tools in this play are wielded in a splendid fashion by all, particularly director FX Michaels.
Bill Westlake’s “Adverse Possession” shows us that an imprisoned embezzler, masterfully played by Maura O’Neill, can easily outthink her too-clever offspring (Chelsea Dean) and dim bulb boyfriend (Brian Richard). Lin McNulty directs as we learn yet again that age and experience trump their opposites.
“A Play At The Plate” by Indy Zoeller features Fred Vinson and Peter Vinson as baseball announcers calling the same game in completely different styles. Lynda Sanders directed this fast-paced, amusing exposition of youth and technology meeting age and experience in a warmly satisfying encounter.
FX Michael’s “Devil May Care” is a dark experience centered on a young woman, played by Kira Bradshaw, with an alcohol addiction leading to thoughts of suicide. Cele Westlake, as Bethany, takes her home and tries to help her by suggesting she look to a higher power. Tracey Oniya is the “higher power,” but not the one we naturally think of in that regard. Bev Johnson is effective as the suicidal girl’s friend, and all give excellent performances under Audra Goffeney’s talented direction.
Lin McNulty’s “Results Are In” is a play about a bratty teenager, well-played by Olivia Smith, nicely manipulating helpless parents, played by Michele Griskey and Nick Hershenow. The big event at the end is surprising, leaving one to wonder just who really is in control. It is well directed by Cara Russell.
“Sign Off,” written by Russell, ends the evening with impressive performances by Tom Fiscus and Aerial Brown as a father and daughter dealing with her departure from home to seek her own life. Andy Martin’s cab driver helps bring the poignant play, beautifully directed by Gillian Smith, to a warmly emotional conclusion.
PlayFest is at the Grange May 3, 4, and 5 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $5 at Darvill’s, brownpapertickets.com, or at the door.