Posted on Jul 25, 2013
3 out of 5
Extended 4PLAY is perhaps too extended, the show could use tighter pacing. However, the shows provide, if nothing else, a huge variety in theme and writing styles.
The first show, “Future Perfect” by Jack Phillips, deals with issues of how much information to share with your partner in a relationship in a bit of a heavy handed way. It attempts to make the story more palatable with comedy, which only serves to undercut the message of the play. Missy Fennewald and Patrick Rippeto do an able job playing the young couple, who both have a history they haven’t told the other person.
“Peggy”, written by Michael Ruth, is a purely ridiculous exploration of how far outside of her comfort zone one woman will go sexually. Overall it felt more like a skit than a play as there was very little character progression. It was more like a very long joke waiting for its punch line, which comes in the last seconds of the show. Frank Lillig plays a fairly one dimensional character in this and seems to be overpowered, which may have been the goal, by Briana Marxen-McCollum’s charisma onstage.
“Górecki in Silence”, by Nicholas Sawin, is a very bittersweet play about a young man, Mikolaj (composer Górecki’s middle name), who is in love with his roommate, Geoff, who is in a long term relationship with a woman. Nothing is as clear cut as it seems or as black and white as Mikolaj wants it to be. This is a subtle and careful look at two very different men trying figure out how to communicate with each other.
Sam Slosburg as Mikolaj has a confident, extreme physicality, which can at times come off as stagey or over-aggressive, which at times pulls the audience’s sympathy from the character he is playing. However, his ability to express believable emotion is exceptional and we feel our hearts breaking as his does. His physicality, however, serves him well in “Koko’s Achilles Heel.” A real stand out of the evening was Matthew Schmidli. He gave an incredibly grounded and subtle performance as Geoff, a character with as many layers as an onion. Slowly, as Geoff lets the audience see deeper into his past, they are transfixed.
“Koko’s Achilles Heel,” by Frank Higgins, is a unique look at the entire romantic comedy genre, with Apes quoting the original romantic comedy that has spawned so many cheesy rip-offs, Shakespeare’s “Much Ado About Nothing”. The take is inventive and the commentary the play makes on the genre is refreshing. There is nothing too heavy in the play’s storyline; it doesn’t reinvent the wheel, but it is an enjoyable ride. Tafik Muhammad does a good job pulling off a romantic lead, while playing an ape. Briana Marxen-McCollum plays the titular character, and is absolutely charming. She is a character everyone is rooting for to find love. Missy Fennewald gives a nicely comedic performance the passive aggressive human who looks after Koko.