ONE ACT FESTIVAL/THE ORIGINAL
Ain’t no atheist in a fighting hole!
Three creative minds are at work and create shows that are not only fascinating but lively and hold your attention instantaneously. Bob Turton (Clean Slate), James Bane (Tradition) and Lynde Houck (A Perfect World) have created works of visionary art that’s not only sensitive but, thoughtful and stirring. Clean Slate is about a doctor (Tom Szymanski) and his patient (Mary Eileen O’Donnell) going through some weird Groundhog Day episode. In Tradition, three generations of brave men who served their country have some interesting personal history that comes to light. A Perfect World are two adults (Lee Margaret Hanson and Jeremie Loncka) who grow up in a fantastic world they create.
Dr. Richardson (Szymanski) is a behavioral scientist who’s been caring for Miriam, who suffers from Alzheimer’s for 8 years. He continuously asks “how do you feel?” and she answers with a blank stare. Richardson encourages a reply by giving Miriam her favorite ice cream and a song to help her remember. Instantly, she’s changes and becomes friendlier. She can’t exist in the outside world and panics when Richardson brings it up.
At her annoyance, he puts everything down on a tablet and she quickly yanks it from his hands. Now, she’s the one asking questions about his mental health. The patient becomes the doctor. Eventually, the relationship changes from doctor to patient to something more familiar and comforting. Every day for Miriam is new, which maybe what this doctor can order.
The theme of family continues with Tradition, where three soldiers within the same family serve in the military. The men are played by actresses who convey masculine traits of strength and fiercenessin order to get through the war. Playwright James Bane based the story on his family. Actress Andrea Monte Warren plays James Edward Bane I, (Grandad) Bane’s grandfather who was a World War II veteran. Quonta B. Easley plays Bane’s best friend Brad Adams from the Marines. Kaili Hollister plays Daddio, Bane’s father James Edward Bane II. Sadly, in real life, all three committed suicide. Actress Guebri Vanover is the playwright, James Edward Bane III, a Marine and combat veteran from the war in Iraq. Bane explained that having actresses was “aside from the fact that these women are talented, the choice to have an all-female cast in such a hellish play was because I feel the general public are used to men dying in war or violent suicide but not women, yet they experience it too. I thought it would be more impactful.” It works. These women are four bad asses playing experienced soldiers fighting through life, death, PTSD and much more.
Luckily, the couple in A Perfect World don’t have to experience that trauma. Lisa and Jim (Lee Margaret Hanson and Jeremie Loncka) are two kids in adult bodies living out their playful, idyllic life. Lisa refers to herself as Pinkie and Jim class himself Hank because he’s so manly. However, they pinkie square on being together and forever. That part remains solid. As adults they look at their favorite tree Greenie, which resembles the sad looking tree from A Charlie Brown Christmas. Much to Lisa’s dismay, Jim peels off pieces of bark and eats it. Suddenly he speaks in a British accent. Their main constant is playing several games to make the time go by. Their favorite is the moon game. Just the two of them with lush mountains, many species of birds flying in the bright sky and hearing the roar of the ocean beneath them. Lisa counts the colors of the leaves as they change.
As they get older, Jim becomes somewhat aloof, but, Lisa remains her bubbly, talkative self. During a quick costume change on stage, the dynamic duo are older. They are two old souls clinging heavily to each other. They play the moon game where Jim is an astronaut out to save Lisa. Playwright Lynde Houck takes a tender story and makes it so kindhearted and sweet it’s hard not to feel emotional. Houck does an amazing job in showing how growing older is a whole lot easier and les scary when it’s shared with someone you truly love and can’t live without.
One Act Festival plays Thursday, April 4th, Friday, April 5th and Saturday, April 13th at 8 p.m., Sunday, April 14th at 2 p.m. and Saturday, April 20th at 6 p.m. at The Actors’ Gang Theater, located at 9070 Venice Blvd. in Culver City. To reserve online, log on to https://www.theactorsgang.com.