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Clandestine: It’s A Secret {But Tell Your Friends} . . . (Planet Connections 2010)

by Stephen Tortora-Lee on June 20, 2010

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What kinds of secret do you know?

Is it classified?  Is it torrid?  Do you feel it’s necessary to preserve your identity?  Do you have a secret identity?  Is it ruining your life?  Is it a second life? Is it real or just pretend? Do you need to expose it to be free?  Do you need to preserve it just to stay sane?

The blurb for this Planet Connections  show was very brief:

It’s a secret.

I want to keep the surprise as well so you can find the answers for yourself by coming to the play.  So the questions that are sparked within you will hopefully expose new truths to you, or make you laugh in surprise at the craziness of a situation, or cry at the irony, or smirk in bemusement at an unexpected twist, or revel in satisfying conclusions.  Or hopefully lead you on to examine yourself deeper and find new secrets about yourself.

But I will tell you one thing . . .

This show is 5 one-act plays that has a running time of 100 minutes and is a strong showcase of playwrights who have other longer pieces in this festival (Duncan Pflaster who wrote and directed Thyme of the Season,  Jonathan Wallace who wrote A Dream about Sunflowers and Glory Bowen who adapted and directed The Picture of Dorian Gray) as well as others don’t have multi-act plays in this festival, but are also cutting edge playwrights:  Nandita Shenoy and Alex Goldberg.

When looking through the program of shows in a festival like Planet Connections (such as Frigid, Fight Fest, or that other little one coming up – Fringe (here’s its schedule))  . . . How do you decide which plays to go to?  You can’t get to them all, so you have to pick and choose.  Therefore, the blurb becomes an artful attention grabber – one where you have to pick and choose your words carefully to reach the right balance.

The same can be said about a one act play.  You only have a small amount of time to get your story across and almost always you’re going to be grouped with a number of other one act plays.  It’s gutsy to have only a three word description of the play.  And it worked for me.

In the same spirit, below are “micro-reviews” of each of the one acts you’ll find in Clandestine.  But overall this is a great show with Chae-kyung Lee as House Manager, Nicole M. Smith as Stage manager, and very dramatic  lighting effects done by Eric Kasprisin and further design by Jessica M. Burgess (lighting), Dan Ozmininkowski (light) and Jacob Subotnick Sound.  NewGround Theatre Collective did a great job in getting everything in this show coordinated together and  I look forward to seeing their work in the future.  Hopefully they’ll consider putting this show together again as the components fused together really well.

UFO Weather by Jonathan Wallace
Directed by Rachel Klein

Shane (Teisha Bader) and Lainie (Mariel Matero) finish walking up the side of a small mountain so they can either see some UFO’s in the fog, or figure out what they really want to do with their lives.  The answers should surprise you.  Great sound and lighting design on this one.

Fabulous by Glory Bowen
Directed by Cindy N. Kawasaki

When two old friends meet for coffee, one keeps secrets of her liberal nature from her friend while the conservative one just keeps being inadvertantly offensive. The secrets they have from each other quickly escalate from simple small talk to accusations and much more as misunderstandings create many funny situations to keep the audience laughing throughout.  This fast paced play showcases Mariel Matero as Jean and Rosebud Baker as Clara.

Rules of Engagement by Nandita Shenoy
Directed by Luke Harlan and Assistant Director Brendan Naylor

Nora (Bona Tek) and Eugene (Eugene Oh) meet at a cafe over lunch break from the company they both work at.  Eugene tells her his secret – he loves her.  Nora says he can’t love her because they only made out that one time at a party, and she doesn’t date guys like him.  Like what?  And she tells him.  And tells him.  And tells him.  She seems to have every possible reason to not want to start a relationship with.  Eugene tries to pop each of these secret “rules” with charisma and intelligence, and Nora finds out some secrets about herself.

Lying Naked by Alex Goldberg
Directed by Michael Schwartz and Assistant Director Samantha Cooper

In this intense play Lily (Rosebud Baker) and Carter (Dominic Spillane) start off naked on a bed furiously ravishing each other.  “Naked” that is in all ways except in how they really feel about all the layers of secrecy they have in order to maintain their illicit relationship with each other.  We see in this play how being intimate and being together aren’t the same thing without honesty.  The choreography of the bedsheets is almost as good as the witty dialogue and surprising twists all packed into this one act play.

The Russet Rascal by Duncan Pflaster
Directed by Luke Harlan and Assistant Director Brendan Naylor

In this play the powers of derring-do and good reporting live in a fun and zany world with caped crusaders, super-villains and a female butler named Bertha (Leslie Nemet).  Can the Russet Rascal (Doot-doo-doo) played by Kate Michaud keep her secret identity as a rich industrial tycoon safe when a nosy reporter by the name of Alice “Ace” McAllister comes around looking for a scoop about the disappearance of an experimental prototype of the dangerous freeze-ray molybdenum gun  is stolen from her nearby factory?  Who is the likely culprit?  None other than the Spanglish Fly (Fly…Fly… Fly…) played by Matt Carr, who drops in to cause trouble in the middle of the play.  Alice and the Rascal learn each other’s secrets and Bertha finally gets what she really wants for Secretary’s Day.  This play does a great job at laughing at as well as appreciating the ridiculousness of those old super hero shows of the 50′s and 60′s (especially Bat Man and Robin).

Only one show left, Sunday June 20th at 2:30.  If you can make it you won’t be sorry.  If you can’t check out some of the other works by the playwrights of this show.


Produced by NewGround Theatre Company benefiting Women In Need (WIN)
PLAYWRIGHTS: Glory Bowen, Ann Gillespie, Alex Goldberg, Duncan Pflaster, Nandita Shenoy and Jonathan Wallace
DIRECTORS: Luke Harlan, Cindy N. Kawasaki, Rachel Klein and Michael Schwartz
Running time: 100 minutes, no intermission
Venue: The Gene Frankel Theatre, 24 Bond Street
Purchase tickets here.
Written by Jonathan Wallace
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