Thursday, January 31, 2013

MRS. SORKEN & THE DUCK VARIATIONS • Mustard Seed Theatre

Christopher Durang's brief play, Mrs. Sorken, was plucked from a collection of one-act parodies featured in his self-titled,  Durang/Durang, and it kicks off the show, serving as a nice introduction to the second play, David Mamet's, The Duck Variations.

After the pre-show announcements, Mrs. Sorken (Peggy Billo) is asked onstage to address the audience about theatre, its Greek roots and what attracts theatergoers to drama.  Once she realizes that she's lost her notes, she has to wing it, rambling in a free-association kind of way.  She begins with the etymology of the word drama, linking it to its Greek roots, and just about anything else that pops into her head.  She also talks about her own personal theatre preferences, announcing that she doesn't like the "f" word, plays that are over 4 hours, and Shakespeare -- if it's too hot and she has to pay.  Ha!  Little peeks into her own slightly unfulfilled life with Mr. Sorken work their way in as well.

Peggy Billo (Mrs. Sorken)
Photo credit: John Lamb
You get the idea that she regrettably doesn't get out too much with the Mr., admitting that this little lecture is the highlight of her life.  Billo is endearing and inviting as Mrs. Sorken, and if you keep you eyes peeled, you can catch her taking her seat among the audience before the start of the play.

The second play, the oddly un-Mamet like, The Duck Variations, has a couple of oldsters, Emil (Richard Lewis) and George (Bobby Miller), getting together at a local park to read the paper, drink coffee, and talk -- a conversation that centers around the ducks that they've set their eyes on.  Their shared admiration of the duck gives way to observations and ruminations about everything from the environment and society, to friendship and mortality.  Both men are opinionated, but George is a bit of a blowhard, and Emil seems a little more thoughtful.  Their give-and-take also further sheds light on their individual idiosyncrasies, and imparts a sometimes humorous, and ultimately sobering commentary on their own place in the world.  Lewis and Miller, as easy as a pair of slippers, comfortably disappear into their roles completely.  

Bobby Miller (George S. Aronovitz) and
Richard Lewis (Emil Varec)
Photo credit: John Lamb
With Jent's direction, and the across the board talent onstage, it's an entertaining evening that leaves you a little introspective.  The simple set, with a backdrop of the blue sky and green hills of the park, is courtesy of Bess Moynihan, as well as the lighting design.  Kareem Deanes' sound design adds a lot of atmosphere to the second play, and Emma Bruntrager's costume design is spot-on.

Check it out -- it's playing until the 10th.


MRS. SORKEN & THE DUCK VARIATIONS 

Mrs. Sorken written by Christopher Durang
The Duck Variations written by David Mamet
Directed by Deanna Jent
Mustard Seed Theatre, 6800 Wydown Blvd.
through February 10 | tickets: $20 - $25
Performances Thursday to Saturday at 8pm, Saturdays and Sundays at 2pm

Cast:
Peggy Billo* (Mrs. Sorken), Richard Lewis (Emil Varec) and Bobby Miller* (George S. Aronovitz).
* Member Actors' Equity Association

Creative:
Scenic design by Bess Moynihan; lighting design by Bess Moynihan; costume design by Emma Bruntrager; sound design by Kareem Deanes; stage manager, Josie Zeugin.

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