One Act Play Festival at Theatre 82: Second Wave

 

The 11th Annual One Act Play Festival, which began last month, is presenting eight plays in its second “wave.”

Dwayne Yancey’s Death by Poinsettia is a deliciously dark comedy about a depressed woman who tries to commit suicide on Christmas Eve. Caroline sets up a video camera and proceeds to consume the leaves of a poinsettia plant, which she believes is poisonous. When Caroline’s socially awkward co-worker Dwayne (David Kane) shows up with a bottle of wine, her plans go awry.

Kerstyn Desjardin is terrific as the troubled Caroline, who gradually sheds her bitter feelings. Kane is likable and charming as Dwayne melts Caroline’s defenses. These two performers are a winning pair.

I also enjoyed Mark Cornell’s Pops, which focuses on three siblings who are gathered outside their dying father’s hospital room. Peter (Kane), Rob (Tom Chace) and Monica (Jessica Chace) are dealing with unresolved tensions from the past and the dilemma of dealing with a seriously ill family member. The performances are excellent and the writing and directing are top notch.

Bridging the Gap is about the interaction between Xavier (Kyle Clark) and Joe (Tom Chace), a friend of Xavier’s father. The two men’s struggle to bond is the heart of the story. It turns out Joe has a secret he needs to reveal about Xavier’s father.

Chace and Clark are both engaging and the dialogue is crisp and focused, yet the play seems to end too abruptly. I wanted to know these characters a little bit more.

A former rocker plans to reunite with his former bandmates in Free Beer. Freddy (Tom Chace), now reduced to living in his mother’s basement, dreams of reliving past glory on the stage. Chace is very funny as Freddy drinks, smokes dope and renames the band “Free Beer.”

At the conclusion, the actors from all the plays assembled for a group sing-along. The energy and joy was infectious.

The other plays featured are the whimsical Urban Gardening; the enigmatic It’s Beautiful, the sweet high school reunion tale Auld Lang Syne and the charming Cabfare for the Common Man.

One Act Play Festival runs through August 13. 7pm Fridays. 3pm and 7pm Saturdays. Presented by Artists Exchange. Theatre 82. 82 Rolfe Square, Cranston. Artists-Exchange.org.

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