Sunday, February 24, 2008

Bay One-Act Festival, Program One: ☼ ☼ 1/2 BANG BANG

It's Year Seven of the Bay One Acts Festival (BAO) at the Eureka Theatre. There are two programs and each consists of four short one-act plays of 20-30 minutes each. We caught Program One on Sunday afternoon and it was delightful.

The first two shows are all about angst. Isaiah Dufort's 'Absolute Pure Happiness' is about young angst and John Levine's 'Here's That Rainy Day' is about old angst, but both are written with warmth and understanding of the characters. In Dufort's play, Bradly Mena as Rocky gives a strong performance, especially when he smiles, while John Hutchinson and Janice Wright (as the piano-vocalist duo 'El-n-El') bring us slowly to a surprise realization in 'Rainy Day.'

After intermission, the humor picks up. Cary Pepper's 'House of the Holy Moment' and 'Patricia Milton's 'Busybody' are comedies, with 'House of the Holy Moment' featuring a terrific Steve Buscemi-ish performance by Tom Juarez as the pastor (if you want to call it that) of the church (if you want to call it that). Milton's 'Busybody' is darker and both actresses give standout performances (Laura Jane Coles as shoulda-knocked-on-a-different-door Laura and Heidi Wolff as off-her-rocker Missy).

The beauty of these shows is that the writer gets to shine; it's not about sets or costumes or the slightest amount of glitz. The downside is that the shows are so short that unless the actors are spot-on with their lines, every imperfection is magnified. On the other hand, if you're not knocked out by one show, just hang on: they're already setting up for the next.


The San Francisco Theater Blog Awards Division awards half a star to all four plays, plus an extra half for "House of the Holy Moment.' There are two BANGLES of Excellence: one for the way Heidi Wolff cackles "Nipples grow back, y'know,' and the other for depressed Rocky's line: "Absolute Pure Happiness? What a TERRIBLE name!"

Two and a half Stars and two BANGLES for Program One, which plays through March 2. Program Two begins on March 6 and continues through March 16.

The Seventh Annual Bay One-Acts Festival, Program One
Eureka Theatre
215 Jackson Street, San Francisco
Thu - Sun through March 2

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