Confetti Fest XVIII Showcases Four Short Plays
ALBANY – On Thursday, October 6, this reviewer was privileged to attend the preview of Confetti Stage’s presentation of four short plays. Confetti Fest, now in its 18th installment, provides local playwrights a chance to showcase their work and get the feedback only a live audience can provide. And this installment was quite the showcase, indeed.
First up was “Custody”, by Prudence Theriault & Anthony Pezzula, which was also the shortest of the night’s plays. Perhaps the least memorable simply for that reason, it boasted realistic, conversational writing while presenting a model for how a divorce in today’s society can be conducted civilly. Perhaps it helped that no lawyers were present. The two-person cast, directed by Vincent James, had great energy to get the ball rolling on this delightful night of theater.
Next up was “Echo”, written by Laura Darling, and directed by Kathryn Capalbo. What starts out as a “fun adventure” of two college students turns into a philosophical debate when an oracle presents them with the chance to potentially change the past. Nick Nealon’s lighting design shone particularly well within “Echo,” helping to set the mood and tone. Unfortunately, the actress portraying the oracle had a conflict with the preview, so Assistant Director Marissa Lounello was pressed into service to read the lines from off-stage, which were difficult to hear. Nonetheless, the two actresses on-stage did an admirable job carrying on despite the distraction of trying to play off a character who wasn’t actually there. Taryn Nasuta presents Jova, a college student on a research quest, with a certain earnestness and passion particular to that phase of life. As Melanie, Kassidi Jarvis gives a convincing portrayal that helps us focus on the life lesson at the play’s core: Would you change a moment from your past if you could? Would you risk unraveling what makes you “you”?
After intermission came “Musical Chairs,” a witty piece of writing by Daniel Smirlock. Director Tony Pallone, assisted by Dmitriy Kogan, present a blind date between a widow and a widower who don’t even know each others’ names. Both lonely and seeking a connection, they have differing views on whether that connection should be with each other. Colleen Lovett portrays the widow as quietly charming. Mathena Rush waits not only on the main table, but also on some imaginary tables, providing some action to an otherwise static play. Ken Kasch shines as the widower, particularly brightly during an outstanding “ordering” monologue. Ultimately the play poses the questions, do we have “soulmates” or do we choose a partner based on timing more than anything else? And when those relationships end, what comes AFTER?
Last but not at all least, came “Very Mundane Government Meeting” by Matt Reichel. This extremely humorous offering is adroitly directed by Laura Darling (also with a delightful cameo appearance), and her collaboration yields a cast with outstanding energy and character work. Here, two overwhelmed bureaucrats are stunned by a report of a huge oil deposit discovered in their backwater republic. They frenetically scheme to deal with an aging dictator (Rich Angehr, in a brief, fun role) and an overzealous general while deciding who should rise to power. As the bureaucrats, Ash Visker and Max Beyer play up their incompetence and bumbling (while a couple times a bit over-the-top) to great comedic effect. Alex Grandin presents General Santos with loyalty as his central trait and, comedically, not much else. The enjoyable climax to Matt Reichel’s script put a nice button on an entertaining night at the theater.
Confetti Fest XVIII runs October 7-9 and 13-16 at the Albany Masonic Temple. 7:30 evening performances, 2:00 Sunday matinees. Tickets are available at confettistage.org/buy-tickets/