Durang/Durang, an evening of short plays by Christopher Durang (Beyond Therapy), is whimsy run hilariously amok — a sublimely silly 2012-13 season opener for Raleigh, NC-based Bare Theatre, which performed these six wacky one-acts July 19-22 in Burning Coal Theatre Company‘s Murphey School Auditorium in Raleigh and will conclude their two-week, two-city run on July 26-29 at Common Ground Theatre in Durham.
Bare Theatre guest director Olivia Griego demonstrates a fine flair for absurdist comedy – and immense stamina — as she stages six separate shows with plenty of snap, crackle, and pop.
Act I commences with “Mrs. Sorken” in which the somewhat ditzy title character – amusingly impersonated by Triangle theater veteran Barbette Hunter — delivers an ill-advised stream-of-consciousness curtain speech. To say that her mind wanders would be like saying that the R.M.S. Titanic stopped in mid-voyage to take on a little ice.
“For Whom the Southern Belle Tolls” is a sidesplitting spoof of The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams — only this time poor fading Southern belle Amanda (Whitney Griffin) is saddled with an oversensitive agoraphobic hypochondriac son named Lawrence (Jeff Buckner) and another son named Tom (G. Todd Buker), who is the family’s main breadwinner. P.J. Maske as the shall-we-say tomboyish warehouse co-worker named Ginny, whom Tom brings home as a gentlewoman caller for Lawrence, is a disaster. Ginny soon has Lawrence’s panties in a wad, as she decimates his prized glass swizzle-stick collection.
“A Stye of the Eye” is a little too much, and too hard to follow, as it scathingly satirizes A Lie of the Mind, Fool for Love, The Curse of the Starving Class by Sam Shepard, plus Agnes of God by John Pielmier and Glengarry Glen Ross by David Mamet. “Stye” features amusing over-the-top performances by Richard Butner as bickering brothers Jake and Frankie and Julie Oliver as Ma, with hilarious hijinks by Todd Buker and Lucinda Gainey as the nun Agnes and her shrink Dr. Martina. Hilary Edwards as Meg, Jason Bailey as Wesley, and P.J. Maske as Mae.
Act II begins with “Nina in the Morning,” in which the wealthy title character with too much plastic surgery played by Julie Oliver staggers around her opulent home, while Lucinda Gainey narrates Nina’s tale of estrangement from her family and obsession with her deteriorating looks. Richard Butner and Hilary Edwards provide considerable comic relief as Nina’s butler Foote and Maid. Amusing antics by Jason Bailey as Nina’s three children James, Robert, and LaLa and Andrew Martin as Monk are icing on the comic cake.
Then during “Wanda’s Visit,” P.J. Maske gives a scene-stealing performance as the oversexed title character who arrives at the home of her old flame Jim (Jeff Buckner) and his not-so-thrilled wife Marsha (Barbette Hunter) and blithely proceeds to try to wreck their moribund marriage and alienate Jim’s affections. Lucinda Gainey also appears as a Waiter in a disastrous out-to-dinner trip.
Durang/Durang concludes with “Business Lunch at the Russian Tea Room” in which a writer named Chris (Todd Buker) meets his literary agent Margaret (Whitney Griffin) for lunch and to hear the details about a possible screenwriting job. Then Melissa Stearn (Olivia Griego) arrives, wigged out and chock-full of alternately outrageous and appalling ideas for his next play. The one about the Priest and the Rabbi (Jeff Buckner and Jason Bailey) who fall in love is a real corker. Hilary Edwards adds a cute cameo as a Waitress.
SECOND OPINION: July 25th Durham, NC Independent Weekly review by Byron Woods (who awarded the show 2.5 of 5 stars): http://www.indyweek.com/indyweek/a-mixed-bag-of-sketches-by-christopher-durang/Content?oid=3110561. (Note: To read Triangle Arts & Entertainment’s online version of the July 19th Triangle Theater Review preview by Robert W. McDowell, click http://triangleartsandentertainment.org/2012/07/durangdurang-showcases-the-quirky-comedies-of-christopher-durang-in-six-one-act-plays/.)
Bare Theatre presents DURANG/DURANG at 8 p.m. July 27 and 28 and 2 p.m. July 29 at Common Ground Theatre, 4815B Hillsborough Rd., Durham, North Carolina 27705.
TICKETS: $17 ($10 students, seniors, and active-duty military personnel).
BOX OFFICE: 919-322-8425, email@example.com, or http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/241838.
VIDEO PREVIEW: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iKl7YTQkK0I&feature=youtu.be.
Durang/Durang: http://www.christopherdurang.com/FullDurangDurang.htm (official web page).
The Script: http://books.google.com/ (Google Books).
Christopher Durang: http://www.christopherdurang.com/ (official website) and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christopher_Durang (Wikipedia).
Olivia Griego: http://artistsresourceagency.com/html/female_talent___olivia_griego.html (Artists Resource Agency).
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/.