Love can be many things. It can be forced, it can be natural, it can surprise, it can comfort, it can harm, it can make you question yourself, it can be ridiculous, it can be inexperienced, it can be sophisticated, it can make you cry tears of joy and sorrow, it can be mutual, it can be unrequited, at times it can be boring, but at others it can be exhilarating. These are all aspects that describe From Shelterbelt With Love 12. Just like love, the show has its ups and downs but you look back at everything that happened and are thankful for the experience.
The first act was highlighted by Beaufield Berry’s play Sloppy Seconds, a show that teaches us one of life’s important lessons, never touch a woman’s salad. An amusing premise filled with clever one-liners details the strife surrounding a fed up girlfriend’s interrogation of an unemployed boyfriend’s alleged food faux paus. Katie Hurst shines with her spot-on comedic timing and non-verbal reactions to counterpart Jay Huse. If Sloppy Seconds is any indication of what we can expect to see from Berry’s full-length play Psycho Ex-Girlfriend (produced later this year by Shelterbelt), mark your calendars now for the April opening.
Also worth noting in the first half is All the Way by Steven Kobar. Filled with quiet moments that say more than any piece of dialogue, we bare witness to a hotel room where the elderly Syd (Doug Blackburn) pays for the companionship of a much younger escort Lynn (Devin Tumpkin) and then asks her to do something unexpected. While both actors play off each other with great ease and rhythm, Blackburn in particular wows in this one. So often we’re used to seeing him playing louder or more villainous roles, his turn as Syd is a welcome departure.
The second half features Michael Palmreuter’s Dead Time, a delightful account of a wife, a mistress, and a florist visiting a grave with a 9-minute parking meter. My date’s favorite of the evening goes to The One Kiss by Molly Campbell, where we learn of 3 different accounts of the one magical moment that a woman doesn’t forget. Notable performances as well come from Mark Vandrasek, Melissa Carnahan, and Liz Huse.
The skits in between each play were hit or miss. Some were amusing but many unnecessary and even confusing. Equally confusing was the placement of the shows poster (contact info and all) upstage center that was more of a distraction than enhancement. Pacing in some shows seemed a little forced at times but that’s to be expected on opening night in front of your first audience.
Overall, SWL12 is an entertaining evening that gives a glimpse at some new, talented playwrights (especially the local ones) with a solid ensemble that knows how to show an audience some love.
Cold Cream looks at theater in the metro area. Email information to firstname.lastname@example.org