“Identity Crisis” Play Festival
by Toby Zinman
for the Inquirer
A smorgasbord approach to theater: Luna Theater Company’s festival offers 10 ten-minute plays all focused on the general theme of “Identity Crisis.” Ten playwrights, nine actors, five directors and four designers team up to create these quickies. The advantage of a smorgasbord is that you get to taste a little bit of many things; some you like, some you don’t.
Each playlet is introduced by a video of silhouettes; the actors replace their shadow figures—although in one of the plays, “Shelly,” a man (David Sanger) argues with his alter-ego who is represented on film.
The first act—a group of six pieces—is subtitled, “Dark Side of the Moon” (it’s Luna Theater, after all) and the second act is four called “The Light(er) Side of the Moon.” As you can imagine, the last are, more or less, comedies.
Among the best of the bunch were the longest: “Telltale Signs” by Quinn D. Eli, and directed by Tina Brock, is about a couple whose murdering psychopathology keeps them together. Megan Slater is especially good here. Another interesting piece is “Cycles of the Moon” by Jae Kramisen, directed by Michael Durkin, where two young women (Kate Black-Regan and Haley McCormick) are nostalgic for a horrifying childhood of cruelty and neglect; their stunted psychological growth makes them want to stay babies.
Charming and funny and very contemporary is the last play, “Inbox: Empty or AirPort:Scanning” by Kate Brennan and directed by Gregory Scott Campbell, featuring Haley McCormick and Jeremy Gable as two lonely thirty-somethings who meet in a gym; their inner thoughts are texted on the screen behind them. Also sweet was “My Robs” by Ron Burch, about the many aspects of one husband a wife has to negotiate them all-- romantic Rob, watch-the-game Rob, tired from work Rob, etc.
The least satisfying were those that were either two short to develop either a plot or characters; “Militant” by Eoin Carney, directed by Gregory Campbell seemed to be merely a fragment of dialogue, while “Little World” by Joy Cutler, about Catherine the Great’s rebirth, made no sense to me whatsoever.
When the plays weren’t about relationships, they were about politics, and these were the most blatant: “Homeschooling of Jonathan Anderson” by Sean Christopher Lewis and directed by Aaron Oster, was about the extremes of parental childrearing theories as they teach their son revolution. “The Cosmonaut in Human Resources” by Jeremy Sony, features Mark Cairns as a Russian cosmonaut who has been “marooned in space” but who learns the corporate lesson of ruthless self-help.
“Their Master’s Voice” by Larry Pontius, directed by Samantha Tower, seems to be about political obedience, but is probably more about being an actor; two characters try to keep up with what the voiceover (i.e., stage directions) tells them to do, but are repeatedly undermined by their own free will.
With this much variety, and actors so fame and so versatile, it’s an entertaining festival.
Luna Theater Company at the Playground at the Adrienne Theatre, 2030 Sansom St. Through June 3 . Tickets $18-$28. Information: www.LunaTheater.org