Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Eight is just right

Wow. That's the only word to describe last night's meeting. We had 23 attendees--the most we've had since last June--welcomed one new writer and two new actors and read 8 plays. And yet, we still got done around 9:30pm. The discussion was lively and constructive and did not run overlong for any of the plays.

We opened with Bell, Book and Kindle by our newest writer Deirdre Gilbert. This short comedy centered around an older woman dealing with the trauma of replacing her beloved book collection with a Kindle given to her by her devoted husband. It's a clever idea that was charmingly executed in this little nugget of a play.

After that we read the finale of my restaurant comedy, Million Dollar Meatballs, in which the stolen diamonds are discovered and the bungling thieves get what's coming to them. There was a lot of discussion about the huge number of stage directions. I felt they were needed because the play is a farce with tons of physical comedy, but some of the actors felt they got in the way of the reading, making it impossible to tell if the dialogue worked on its own.

That was followed by Sue Bachman's short slice-of-life dramedy, Giving Her the Raspberries. The play was based on an old memory of Sue's in which a young girl (Sue?) ran away from home after being scolded by her mother. The audience felt this play presented a beautiful picture of a mother's love and thought that Sue nailed the childlike cadences of a 2-year-old's speech. Jess Weaver did a wonderful job capturing the innocence of the child.

Next up was the beginning of August Mergelman's adaptation of the Dracula story, The Count. The play featured August's famous rhyming couplets, which resulted in some sing-songy presentations, but August informed the actors that the rhyme scheme should be ignored during delivery. The audience was torn about the heavy use of narration, but everyone seemed to like the creepy mood that was set.

We then read a couple scenes from Tim Phillip's romantic drama Abigail Finds Love. Here Abigail knocks out her domineering husband so she could meet the young piano player Paul. The audience as  intrigued by this developing relationship and were really looking forward to seeing where it goes next.

We followed that with the finale of Grant Swenson's Oz-reboot, And Your Little Dog, Too. The story wound up satisfactorily, maintaining the playful spirit that has been the script's biggest strength since the beginning. People also liked that rather than staying home, Dorothy and Toto were ready to go out on more adventures at the end.

After that we read a rewrite of a scene from Jess Weaver's sex dramedy Just a Game. It got a ton of laughs, especially during an explicit scene at the breakfast table. The consensus was that the dialgoue was sharp and the characters were all very well-drawn.

We finished up with Grant Swenson's 1-minute comedy Sampled, in which two fathers reflect on life as their children whack away at a pinata.  The idea was fresh, and the twist at teh end got a big laugh form the assembled throng. The problem? 1-minute plays are so short, it's hard to find anything to discuss.

Our two new actors were welcome additions. David Olson excelled in roles ranging from a hard-nosed cop to Dracula himself. And Megan Rieger brought a sassy spunk to her portrayals.

We'll be getting back together on Monday, July 14. See you then!

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