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Acts Of Love (2012 Planet Connections Festivity)

by Karen Tortora-Lee on June 16, 2012

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Acts of Love is a five act play, each act self contained and delivering a message of a type of love – be it romantic, familial, waning or budding.  Each of the five short plays illuminates love in the form of friendship, tentative romance, sibling tension or internal monologue.  Everyone is here: the human and super-human, the real and hyper real, the ones who fit in and the ones who stand out.  Acts of Love presents it all in an effort to leave no stone unturned to get to that crazy thing that drives us all.

The five shorts are written by either Gabrielle Fox or Mark Jason Williams and each act gives the audience an opportunity to either laugh, smile, cringe, or nod in recognition.  Written with warmth and sweetness, each play contains a nugget of truth that resonates with the watcher and invites you to examine your own connections.

Goodbye Party (by Fox) features Mary Roberts and Misti Tindiglia in a story about the meek Adrianna (Roberts) who abruptly quits her job and is lingering at her goodbye party where the lone Samantha (Tindiglia) remains, cleaning up.  Samantha is that typical office mother; the one who’s been there forever and seems to be as much a part of the office as the walls and the furniture.  To the untrained eye – Adrianna’s eye, let’s say – this is her future: marry her job and become a stereotype.  But scratch the surface of that stereotype and you’ll find a wise sage.  Samantha proves to be more than just the 9-5 poster-woman, and as she pokes a little deeper she finds that Adrianna left her job in order to get a party – one that secretly doubles as a 30th birthday party.  However, seeing nothing but post-it notes and staplers in her future Adrianna is resolved to go home and quietly pack it in.  After all, looking at Samantha, and seeing her future, the road ahead seems bleak.  In a clear case of short-sightedness the young woman doesn’t see the richness and fullness of the beauty that awaits her.  Samantha becomes like  a coach giving the player that boost of confidence right before the game.  It’s the kind of conversation we’ve all either had at some point in our lives, or wish we had.  Ultimately Adrianna realizes that not everything is as bleak as it seems.

Smiles to Saturn (by Williams) is the message play of the night centering around two brothers, one with Asperger’s Sysdrome and one with resentment.  The “normal” brother is having a party and has relegated his non-party-worthy brother to the basement where he can be content to play his games and sit in his jammies.  In a burst of magical realism a pop-up ad (Miss Sparkles) comes to life and gives the kid a pep talk about how to woo women.  When a gal from the party comes wandering into the basement feeling dejected she finds the company much more to her liking down there and with the (of course invisible) Miss Sparkles giving Cyrano-like prompts it’s not so difficult for an awkward but charming conversation to bubble up.  The theme here is that while it may not be a walk in the park dealing with someone who thinks differently and whose actions are difficult to predict, we’re all awkward and unpredictable in our own way and frankly all of us need to be treated specially and specifically.  And who couldn’t use a Miss Sparkles on our shoulder giving us some advice from time to time?

It is when Midnight Musings (by Williams who also directed the piece) arrives that the night is moved to a whole other level. While the plot is nothing more than the title implies, the story, the acting, the direction – everything about this little gem is perfect. Beautifully acted by Margie Ferris and Thom Christensen Musings is the story of Caroline and her string of hard-luck love stories. Having just come back from a date set up by “a friend” (well, OK Cupid) she notes how first dates are really akin to interviews. Rapid fire she reels off her history – her failed affairs, broken moments, near misses, tragic mistakes, sad rejoinders. Christensen gamely moves from scene to scene and takes on the personae of this crowd of Caroline’s men who loved her and left her, convincingly rotating personalities with as much assertion as Ferris who anchors down the lonely Caroline. Direction is fast, but not rushed, and the piece is a tumble of memories which pour fourth exactly the way anyone’s will after a bad date and a life of defeated romance.  While the piece doesn’t end happily it does end satisfyingly with a hopeful ellipse for the likable Caroline.

Quick on the heels of this comes a similar tale of a woman who is ready to TKO love; Darcy & Duke (penned by Fox) offers us a woman who is loathe to every note of any love song because of the false promise it hold out. Sitting behind her desk she meets the carefree and likable delivery man, Duke who aims to cajole her out of her defensive attitude and distrustful demeanor. Despite her skittishness Duke finds her likeable enough and talks her into giving love a second look. David Berman is charming as the amiable-everyman who won’t take ‘no’ for an answer and Kathleen Boddington does a fine job of portraying a hopeful woman hidden beneath a veneer of frosty irritability.  While they may not make the perfect couple they have a shot at a few good dates — and sometimes that’s enough to get you to the next relationship.

The last piece of the evening drops the audience off in the afterlife as we witness The Reincarnation of Doe Doe (by Fox). This final act is a bit of whipped cream topping at the end of the evening; sweet and light. Doe Doe – “call me Coco” (Jess Erick) is simply in some mid-point post-existence stop chatting with a divine being named Max (Lorenzo Cambriell0). Part watcher, part gatekeeper, part concierge (part neighborhood gossip) Max seems to know all the moments of Doe Doe’s life and is there to encourage her to choose reincarnation at last and take another chance at living after the heartbreak of the journey she has just finished.  Also in this limbo lounge is Doreen (Misti Tindiglia) the proud mama of Doe Doe the doting mother in every way that both annoys Doe Doe and charms Max. As the story flows out we are given instagram snapshots of a relationship that needed to be seen from 360 in order to be better understood.  Hugs abound, a decision is made, and it all wraps up with a heavenly sigh.

Overall, the general theme that ties these shows together is that, for all its heart and heartbreak,  love is the main goal of life. While we come upon a number of roadblocks along the path to finding it, Acts of Love keeps driving home the fact that the biggest roadblock keeping us from finding any and every type of love is often ourselves.



Acts Of Love
Benefiting: The Arc
Produced and written by Mark Jason Williams and Gabrielle Fox


$18 General Admission
$9.00 for Film/Music Participants
FREE for Theatre Festivity Participants
Thursday 5/31/12 – 6:00pm = Performance #1
Sunday 6/3/12 – 4:00pm = Performance #2
Wednesday 6/6/12 – 7:00pm = Performance #3
Friday 6/8/12 – 4:30pm = Performance #4
Thursday 6/14/12 – 9:30pm = Performance #5
Friday 6/22/12 – 8:00pm = Performance #6
90 Minutes


At Bleecker Street Theatre (Downstairs)
45 Bleecker Street, New York, NY 10012
Conveniently located near:
Bleecker St (4 & 6)
Broadway – Lafayette St (B, D, F, M)
Prince St (N, R)
Click here to purchase tickets
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