Each year for the past 16 years, The Changing Scene Theater Northwest has produced “Summerplay,” a festival of one act plays directed by Pavlina Morris. The plays are theatrical vignettes penned by playwrights all over the country (and some from beyond) that generally get their premier performance at Summerplay.
“Summerplay 2018” is currently underway, with performances through Sept. 22 at the Dukesbay Theater, which is housed in the Merlino Arts Building. At each and every performance, you will be treated to all 10 of the short, one-act plays that were selected for this year’s Summerplay festival.
The formula makes for an evening of great entertainment. One vignette follows after the next and before you know it the whole thing is over, leaving behind memories of quotable lines, quirky stories and unique characters.
The cast includes many familiar faces to those who have been around local theater: Curtis Beech, Julie Cole, Eric Cuestas-Thompson, Zachary Forbes, Kayla Littleton, Joseph Magin, Michelle Noel, Karen Noyes, Jason Quisenberry, Mary Sheehan and Kathryn Stahl.
The short plays run the gamut of comedy, social commentary, surrealism and some kind of theatrical existential absurdism. Darren Hembd’s “Baby Chess” is an example of the latter. It is a little too insular and self-reflective for my taste. It is a piece clearly written for theatrical insiders. Theater looks at theater.
One of my personal favorites was Makrenna Rose Sterdan’s “The Geese” in which a groom (Magin) and the brother of the bride (Forbes, understudy for Quisenberry) are trapped by a flock of Canadian geese and have to figure out how to get through them in time for the wedding. My favorite line deals with the absurdity of rental tuxedos being equipped with false pockets. The groom comments on the ridiculousness of garments with false pockets and delivers the memorable line: “There is nothing more beautiful than functional pockets.” As a pocket man, I heartily embraced this sentiment.
Another favorite is “The Appraisal” by Scott Mullen. Here, a woman goes to an “Antiques Roadshow” style appraiser (the lovely Cole) and asks for an appraisal of her husband, whom she would like to leave in good hands so that she can “dance naked at the top of the great pyramid.”
Other plays feature things like an aspiring playwright visiting a cemetery in search of a good plot for a play, a turban that channels the spirit of Valentino, anthropomorphic hornets enjoying pestering a man trying to read the paper (the Tacoma Weekly) and a blind man who conjures visions of exquisite color.
Productions by The Changing Scene Theatre Northwest, which is ably guided by artistic director Pavlina Morris, are always engaging, intimate and a bargain. Summerplay 2018 is doozy of a romp that goes flying enjoyably by.
For information, visit www.facebook.com/changingscenenw.