My first foray into the land of the Hollywood Fringe Festival had me standing in line over on Lillian in the newly named Hollywood Theatre District with a whole bunch of very enthusiastic theatre goers in the middle of a Saturday afternoon. Eventually, we filed into the space. The Theatre Asylum Lab is a tiny venue with about forty seats, packed. After the lovely producer, Laurel Wetzork, guides me to an aisle seat, a tall woman sits down in front of me. Five shows in fifty minutes. I can tough it out.
In the first short play, Kiera Nowacki’s SPOCK AT BAT, I could only see one of the actors, Jenny Curtis as Lacy the sports fan. I could not see Robert Seeley. He’s a pal! (disclaimer.. um.. he’s an old pal) and I wanted to see both actors’ work. I leaned way out into the aisle and caught most of what turns out to be a somewhat lame attempt to pair a woman baseball freak and a geek who loves all of SciFi and Fantasy and knows the difference. Decent performances, but tough sell. Curtain, I slip to the front row where the air conditioning is blowing a light gale.
The second ten minute piece also featured Seeley as Charley, a guy who needs direction. Turning on a Bondage and Discipline theme, Nya (Tora Kim) banters heavy dialogue by Caron Tate in WHATEVER WORKS. It’s a love story. It’s a tough dramatic turn. Seeley is at a considerable disadvantage as he leaves his geeky kid behind from the first piece and quickly becomes the much older Subordinate to Nya’s believable Dominatrix. The intense dedication to some aspects of B and D that I now cannot ‘unsee’ may be a bit much for this intimate setting.
Juilana Robinson and Kara Ludke come next in a clever turn featuring the older sister, Paige on the phone from California to her level headed sis who is across the country. Sarah Dzida’s DON’T PANIC takes a page from a sitcom with the younger sister ‘talking down’ the panicky Californian from her intense situation and then the tables turn and the roles reverse as the younger sister gets upset. Cute and well presented, the least complicated of the Sirens’ Songs.
Autumn McAlpin wrote TEN YEARS LEFT which features again Kim, Seeley, Curtis and Ludke with a brisk addition of Bart Tangredi as a fast talking agent. A nice change up for Ms Curtis as a writer with ten years to live. A symbolic kitchen timer sits on the stage to remind us, as the years tick by for the writer. Her husband, daughter, doctor and agent all plague her to get work done as she withers from a debilitating disease. Ms Curtis as the writer struggles silently as the others circle like vultures. McAlpin may have something here for a full length production.
OUT OF HERE by Laurel Wetzork is a double edged sword. Her SciFi approach brings us a beautiful space alien, GRA (Tora Kim) armed with some gadgets that may have come from Men in Black as it becomes necessary to disarm a local good old Missouri boy, Bill (Henry Kemp), who has been implanted with devices to advance his intellect and prowess far beyond those of mortal men. He begins to seduce the GRA whose response drew the best laughs of the afternoon. Kemp must have been speaking English, but for the life of me understanding him was a major challenge. There might have been some great lines that I just missed. Kim, then, was the sharp edge of my metaphor and Kemp was pretty dull.
It's ambitious for a group of women to issue a Siren Call in the form of five completely different short pieces. Given some seasoning each author may have material to expand.
Check the Hollywood Fringe site for dates and times.