It’s Elemental, dear theatre lovers.
If you like cutting edge, innovative, outside-the-box (and inside, too) theatre, then you must take in an Elemental Theatre production. They have been doing the Go.Go Plays, a series of new short plays, for five years now.
This year their call for submissions brought 31 plays to the table for consideration. They draw “common elements,” which must be integrated into the play, from a hat. Items this year were intense light, something important going unheard, a mistaken identity, a bone and a pickle. Playwrights had only six weeks to submit their plays. All four plays chosen are incredibly well written, funny and with messages that are relevant.
And Elemental Theatre has found just the right mix of actors to fill the roles, including seasoned veterans Rae Mancini and Casey Seymour Kim, who have made their presence known with a number of smashing performances in Rhode Island.
Jill Blevins’ “Wake” has the widow and two children of a deceased man gathering at their home following the funeral. Mom and son get the inheritance, while the devoted daughter only gets his ashes. The daughter (Erin Olson) wonders why. She has been a much better child than her lazy, good-for-nothing brother (Kevin Broccoli). After some family squabbling, which includes a hilarious, irreverent scene involving the ashes, Mom (Rae Mancini) gives her the shocking answer.
Rob Grace’s “The Pickle Shop” is an opportunity for multi-talented Casey Seymour Kim to chew up the scenery as the “crazy pickle lady” before the appearance of her “knight in shining amour” husband (Jed Hancock-Brainard) and a most poignant ending.
George Brant’s “Baby Talk” is a fast-paced, tongue-in-cheek, black comedy about two couples who had babies born in the same hospital at the same time. David Rabinow, D’Arcy Dersham, Rebecca Noon and Chris Rosequest will have you in stitches as they clash over whose baby is whose and why. It is clever, original and dark.
After a brief intermission we are treated to “A Brief History of the Earth and Everything in It,” as performed by Ms. Lopicolo’s Third-Grade Drama Group, a collaborative effort by Dave Rabinow, Vicki Dorazio and John Rogers. The actors from the first half of the program are joined by Amanda Ruggierio, Kelly Seigh, Chris Rosenquest, Bryce Johnson and accompanist John Rogers in a hilarious romp that will sneak up on you.
For the first five minutes I was looking for the exit, as the adult actors played third graders running around the stage. Then it became clear that these kids had something going for them. They were questioning authority. They were sneaking in their views on evolution, creation, organized religion and intelligent design. Things started to come together, much to the concern of the school principal (Mancini again).
Rabinow’s lyrics were crisp and funny, all leading to the conclusion as to what life is really all about. It’s a great history with important messages, all done in a most clever manner and making me glad I never found the exit.
Put them all together and you have one heck of a good time, thanks to the overall direction of Alexander Platt and this talented group of people that call themselves Elemental Theatre.
Go.Go 5 is at the Perishable Theatre space at 95 Empire St. in Providence through Feb. 13. Tickets are $10 (that’s $2.50 a play). Call 447-3001, or check them out on line at www.elementaltheatre.org.