The 10th anniversary edition of The ArtsCenter’s annual The 10 by 10 Festival in the Triangle is a crowd-pleasing potpourri of ten 10-minute plays that showcase the talents of 10 different veteran and novice playwrights from nine states.
First up is “Weight of the World,” written by Eddie Zipperer of Macon, GA, and staged by Distillery founder and artistic director Sylvia M. Mallory of Raleigh, NC. Geraud Staton stars as the primordial Titan Atlas, who shoulders the weight of the world while carrying on a running conversation with Ros Schwartz as a bookish Athena and Matt Garner as Zeus during which the two Olympians fail to convince him that his punishment is over and he can give up his burden and the world will be just fine.
Not-so-super super heroes are the subject of “Duo,” written by Tom Moran of Fairbanks, AK, and staged by Greensboro, NC actor and director Jeff Aguiar. Brook North and Kelsey Kallang star as Rock Man and his increasingly disgruntled sidekick as Gravel Girl, while Susannah Hough is a hoot as their flamboyant nemesis Demon.
Up next — and my choice as the best short play of this year’s 10 by 10 Festival in the Triangle — is “Ghost Lite,” written by Justin Warner of Jackson Heights, NY, and staged by Pittsboro actor and Wordshed Productions former managing and artistic director Chris Chiron. In this wonderfully witty retelling of William Shakespeare’s timeless tragedy Hamlet, J. Alphonse Nicholson is an absolute delight as the dithering Dane and Geraud Staton is terrific as the garrulous Ghost of Hamlet’s Father, who is frustrated by his son’s increasingly feeble excuses for not immediately avenging his murder by his brother Claudius.
“Exit Right,” written by John Paul Middlesworth of Chapel Hill, NC, and staged by Carrboro, NC director Caroline McDaniel, is a mildly amusing piece about a dying sage (played with gusto by Matt Garner) and his devoted disciples (Chris Chiron and Kelsey Didion) who inadvertently interfere with his efforts to utter his Famous Last Words
“Dating 101,” written by Tom Deiker of Clive, IA, and staged by ArtsCenter Stage director Jeri Lynn Schulke of Chapel Hill, closes Act I with a romantic comedy in which a pair of guardian angels try to guide a couple through a first date. Alphonse Nicholson, Brook North, Page Purgar, and Ros Schwartz star.
Act II begins with the splendid black comedy “Suspense,” written by Burning Coal Theatre Company director of education and playwright-in-residence Ian Finley of Raleigh, NC, and staged by Durham, NC actor and director Mark Filiaci. Matt Garner, Susannah Hough, Ros Schwartz, and Geraud Staton star as two treacherous couples, each with designs on eliminating the other. “Suspense” has more unexpected plot twists than a whole collection of O. Henry short stories, and is a close second to Justin Warner’s “Ghost Lite” for the honor of the best play of the 2011 10 by 10 Festival in the Triangle.
In “The Sum of Your Experience,” written by Trace Crawford of Hillard, OH, and staged by Sylvia Mallory, Brook North and Chris Chiron star as a man and his mugger in a mugging gone hilariously awry.
“The Beginning” by Tom Swift of San Francisco, CA, and staged by Chapel Hill actress and director Meredith Sause, is the first of two same-sex romantic comedies. Matt Garner and Alphonse Nicholson play a male couple who find the road to romance particularly rocky.
In “The Coyote Stratagem,” written by Guadalupe Flores of San Marco, TX, and staged by Chapel Hill director Leslie Cloninger, Kelsey Didion and Page Purgar play a female couple who also have a rocky relationship.
“Jinxed,” written by K. Alexa Mavromatis of Providence, RI, and staged by Mark Filiaci, is the last — and least — of the evening’s offerings. Geraud Staton and Kelsey Kallang play another couple whose relationship is on the skids — but the absurd turns that this romantic comedy takes are not particularly amusing.
Next up for the Carrboro-based ArtsCenter is The Best of 10 by 10, which will run July 22-24 and 29-31. “Ghost Lite” by Justin Warner and “Suspense” by Ian Finley certainly deserve strong consideration for The ArtsCenter‘s next Best of 10 by 10.
SECOND OPINION: July 13th Durham, NC Independent Weekly review by Byron Woods (who awarded the show 4 of 5 stars): http://www.indyweek.com/indyweek/the-10th-edition-of-10-by-10-in-the-triangle/Content?oid=2611017; July 11th Chapel Hill, NC Daily Tar Heel preview by Tariq Luthun: http://www.dailytarheel.com/index.php/article/2011/07/the_length_doesnt_matter; July 9th Raleigh, NC CVNC (Classical Voice of North Carolina) review by Alan R. Hall: http://cvnc.org/article.cfm?articleId=4974; and July 5th Durham, NC Herald-Sun preview by Cliff Bellamy: http://heraldsun.com/bookmark/14604300 (Note 1: You must register first to read this article). (Note 2: To read Triangle Arts & Entertainment’s online version of the July 8th Triangle Theater Review preview by Robert W. McDowell, click http://triangleartsandentertainment.org/2011/07/the-best-of-10-by-10-will-follow-the-10th-annual-10-by-10-festival-in-the-triangle/.)
The ArtsCenter presents THE 10 BY 10 FESTIVAL IN THE TRIANGLE at 8 p.m. July 14-16 and 3 p.m. July 17 and THE BEST OF 10 BY 10 at 8 p.m. July 22 and 23, 3 p.m. July 24, 8 p.m. July 29 and 30, and 3 p.m. July 31 in the Earl and Rhoda Wynn Theater at The ArtsCenter, 300-G E. Main St., Carrboro, North Carolina 27510.
TICKETS: $14 in advance and $16 the day of the show, except $10 in advance and $12 the day of the show for students and seniors 62+ and $12 for ArtsClub Members.
BOX OFFICE: 919/929-2787, ext. 201, or http://www.etix.com/. 2011 FESTIVAL: http://artscenterlive.org/performance/center-stage.
THE BEST OF 10 BY 10: http://artscenterlive.org/event/performance/513.
DIRECTIONS/PARKING: http://www.artscenterlive.org/index.php?a=About Us&b=Directions.
NOTE 1: On July 16th, there will be a “Meet the Artists” question-and-answer session the actors, directors, and production team, followed by a reception.
NOTE 2: On July 23rd, there will be a Playwrights Gala, which includes a post-performance question-and-answer session with six out of the ten 2011 playwrights and a reception sponsored by Milltown (http://www.dininganddrinking.com/index.htm) and Southern Rail Restaurant and Bar (http://www.thestationcarrboro.com/) and sponsored by Courtyard by Marriott (http://www.courtyardchapelhill.com/).
NOTE 3: On July 30th, there will be a “Meet the Artists” question-and-answer session with the actors, directors, and production team, followed by a reception.
Robert W. McDowell is editor and publisher of Triangle Theater Review, a FREE weekly e-mail theatrical newsletter that provides more comprehensive, in-depth coverage of Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill theater than all of the other news media combined. This review is reprinted with permission from Triangle Theater Review.
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To read all of Robert W. McDowell’s Triangle Theater Review previews and reviews online at Triangle Arts & Entertainment, click http://triangleartsandentertainment.org/author/robert-w-mcdowell/.