Sunday, March 23, 2014

BRIEFS: A Festival of Short LGBT Plays • La Perla

Helmed by That Uppity Theatre Company, in partnership with The Vital VOICE, "Briefs" is back for its third year, and this festival of short LGBT plays, with almost 100 submissions from across the country, seems to get better and better every year. While LGBT-centric themes have pulsed as the heart of "Briefs", the universal nature of the human condition is an overall motif, with a nice balance of live acts and eight 10-minute vignettes that range from the humorous to the thought-provoking.

Ben Watts (Leslie) and Pete Winfrey (Bernard).
Photo credit: John Lamb
“Buggery" features two mustached gents, Bernard (Peter Winfrey) and Leslie (Ben Watts), complete with top hats, in their skivvies. There is a pulley between them that they use to exchange messages back and forth. It's like Grindr through a Victorian lens, and the juxtaposition is pretty funny, with Winfrey and Watt's straitlaced deliveries really selling the piece.

"Lucky" begins with Shelley (Rachel Hanks) in the emergency room, sporting a shiner and her arm in a sling. When questions from hospital worker, Karen (Paige Russell), hint at the possibility of abuse, Shelley insists that she's been mugged.
Rachel Hanks (Shelley) and Alaina Appleby (Janice).
Photo credit: John Lamb
Karen gives her a card anyway, and shortly after Janice (Alaina Appleby) shows up to take her home, Karen finds her card later -- on the floor. This piece, though stilted at times, aptly shows that regardless of sexuality, no relationship is immune to domestic violence.

Michael Amoroso (Vincent) and Alyssa Ward (Ellie).
Photo credit: John Lamb
"Sharp Corner" opens with Ellie (Alyssa Ward), and Vincent (Michael Amoroso) -- post-coitus. The conversation that follows between these two friends, one gay, one straight, sheds light on the nature of love, how it's shared, and the many forms of intimacy.

Joanna (Meghan Maguire) is trying to navigate the tricky terrain of lesbian dating in "Ready". Her long-time friend, Stephanie (Sara Hamilton), is trying to talk Joanna into going on a blind date with a friend. Joanna jokes about how it seems that there are only five lesbians in St. Louis, and admits that she isn't ready for the process of getting to know anyone -- or the vulnerability required when letting anyone get to know her. Their conversation sheds light on the difficulties of not only dating when you're not in your twenties anymore, but dating from a significantly smaller pool. Yep. I hear, ya...

Sara Hamilton (Stephanie) and Meghan Maguire (Joanna).
Photo credit: John Lamb
"Not My Father's Son", conceived and performed by Desire' Declyne, presents a powerfully intimate portrait -- Zachary Alan Lee sings to us as he transforms before our eyes into Desire' -- living with the knowledge, with pride and regret, that he's not what his father wants him to be. Great performance piece that leaves an impression.

In "Messages Deleted", one of the best pieces, a death brings Mark (John Wolbers) and Gene (Chuck Brinkley), his lover's father together, to try to clean up the evidence of Mark's relationship with David (Jeffrey M. Wright), Gene's son. Mark and Gene's reasons for their actions are different, but they share a common grief of the loved one they've lost. It's a strong commentary about relationships that stay hidden, and includes a haunting twist, and strong performances.

Zachary Alan Lee (aka Desire' Declyne).
Photo credit: John Lamb
A lesbian couple is grappling with the possibility that their daughter is gay in "In the Water". Rachel and Maggie, (Kirsten Wylder and Carrie Hegdahl) strive to protect their child, as all parents do, and though their approaches on how to most effectively do this may be different, it shows that raising a gay child holds its own challenges, with the added spin of these two particular parents begin gay themselves.

In "Strange Bedfellows", Hal (Rich Scharf ) has just learned that his boyfriend of 3 months, Cameron (Eric Dean White), is a Republican. Gasp! Political affiliations have long been a source of contention in the gay community, where "Liberal" is taken to mean "gay accepting" and "Conservative" is taken to mean "Anit-gay". This piece about tolerance admirably tries to break down this set of prejudices within the gay community, with charming performances.

Jeffrey M. Wright (David), John Wolbers (Mark)
and Chuck Brinkley (Gene).
Photo credit: John Lamb
"Briefs" is brief -- only running for three days, with one remaining performance this afternoon. The success of the festival guarantees its return next year, so keep an eye out and get your tickets early! The range continues to expand, and the audiences continue to grow.


BRIEFS

through March 23 | tickets :$15 general admission, $50 VIP balcony cocktail table for 2, with complimentary bottle of wine.
Performances March 21 at 8pm, March 22 at 4pm and 2pm, March 23 at 2pm

Kirsten Wylder (Rachel) and Carrie Hegdahl (Maggie).
Photo credit: John Lamb
“Buggery" written by Brigham Mosley, directed by Ryan Foizey
Cast:
Pete Winfrey (Bernard) and Ben Watts (Leslie).

"Lucky" written and directed by Theresa Masters
Cast:
Paige Russell (Karen), Rachel Hanks (Shelley) and Alaina Appleby (Janice).

"Sharp Corner" written by Donna Hoke, directed by Lee Anne Mathews
Cast:
Alyssa Ward (Ellie) and Michael Amoroso (Vincent).

Eric Dean White (Cameron) and Rich Scharf (Hal).
Photo credit: John Lamb
"Ready" written and directed by Joan Lipkin
Cast:
Meghan Maguire (Joanna) and Sara Hamilton (Stephanie).

"Not My Father's Son" conceived and performed by Zachary Alan Lee (aka Desire' Declyne)

"Messages Deleted" written by Rich Espey, directed by Christopher Limber
Cast:
John Wolbers (Mark), Jeffrey M. Wright (David) and Chuck Brinkley (Gene).

Cast of "Briefs"
Photo credit: John Lamb
"In the Water" written by Tabia Lau, directed by Bonnie Taylor
Cast:
Kirsten Wylder (Rachel) and Carrie Hegdahl (Maggie).

"Strange Bedfellows" written by Donald Miller, directed by Michael B. Perkins
Cast:
Eric Dean White (Cameron) and Rich Scharf (Hal).

1 comment:

  1. this show was amazing and I have to agree...the two best shows, although ALL were amazing...were Strange Bedfellows and Messages Deleted. I think Messages Deleted got the thumbs up as my all over fave. So powerful...strong message of the value of coming out, despite the challenges that go along with it!

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