One Acts: A Peer Review

It was the week before Thanksgiving break, and the members of CMC’s theater association “Under the Lights” were busy putting the final touches on their annual production of the “One Act Plays.”  On opening night, the lights dimmed and the audience hushed in anticipation as the first players took their places. The stage brightened, illuminating the two figures of Edward Zaki and Tori Gaines as they began their dialogue. “English Made Simple” featured hypothetical conversations between different men and women during their first minutes of encounter at a party. Sam Stone acted as the mediator; when the players paused, his booming voice interjected with refreshingly comedic commentary. Though the pacing of the lines sometimes felt like watching a tennis match, the witty dialogue was executed well by both actors.

In the next play, “The Actor’s Nightmare,” Bryan Brown starred in an over the top performance of a terrified actor trapped in a fit of forgotten lines and stage fright as he is forced to keep up with an angry stage manager and a constantly changing cast. His role was well complimented by Laila Heid and David Leathers, both of whom had the crowd laughing after nearly every line delivered. This play was easily the most involved, and while it sometimes made obscure references, the audience was kept on their toes at every turn.

This fast-paced, comical series of scenes was contrasted by the performances of Ileana Gabriela Mendoza and Crystal Adams in “Poof.” This play dealt with the dark topic of women trapped by abusive and violent husbands. However, when Mendoza’s tormentor disappears with hardly a trace, it adds a twist that causes feelings of celebration, resentment, and ultimately relief for the two women. Though there was hardly a break from the serious tone of this play, Mendoza and Adams gave convincing performances beyond their years.

The final One Act in the series featured Julia Starr and Jennifer Baute in “The Wake.” Starr’s quirky role as an uninvited guest to a wake was perfectly matched to the moving, and equally funny, performance of Baute as the grieving widow. Her performance in particular helped the play maintain a flawless balance of comedy and tragedy as she dealt with the guilt of partially causing her husband’s untimely demise. The resounding applause at the end of the production demonstrated the audience’s appreciation for the heartfelt performance of these two actors.

But the performance that stole the show was that of a hand modeling shoot gone awry starring Paige Costello and Will Kahn. An unexpected reversal of gender roles paired with hilariously executed physical comedy had the audience in hysterics from start to finish. Kahn’s style, from his flamboyant gestures to his fake Italian accent, commanded the attention of the audience. Costello  matched him move for move, making “Finger Food” one unforgettable performance.

UTL President, Jennifer Baute, commented on her job of organizing the production, saying “I really enjoyed working on one acts this year. From acting to directing to organizing the event, it's UTL's members and the students who come to see the fruits of our labor that make participating worthwhile. I'm looking forward to working on the full-length Ath production next semester!”

Not only were students the performers within the actual production, but each One Act was directed by various students as well, demonstrating once again that the pool of talent at CMC knows no bounds. Overall the acting was well-rehearsed, the plays well-chosen, and the performance seemed to go off without a hitch.

Special thanks to Michelle Kung, Jim Nauls, the Media Tech Department, and the whole cast of UTL for another stellar production.