Meri Kennedy’s story about Cranston’s Artists Exchange in last week’s Herald aroused my interest in their 8th Annual One Act Play Festival.
The festival is held in two waves, with Wave 1 running through July 21, with performances Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. at theatre 82 (82 Rolfe St.), two blocks up from their black box theatre. The second wave runs July 26 through Aug. 4.
We caught the first wave, which consisted of five plays by local (Kevin Broccoli and Ben Jolivet) and West Coast playwrights and directed by Kate Lester and Tom Chace. The plays are brief and are all different, ranging from light and fluffy to hard-hitting, with the common thread being an unusual surprise at the end.
“Family Business” by Kay Poiro is a spoof on the Cinderella tale with an ending that will take you completely by surprise.
Broccoli’s “Blanche” is a take-off of a famous fictional character whose sister just happens to be named Stella and father Big Daddy. It takes place in a closed asylum and, thanks to some great acting by Kate Lester and Christine Treglia, will hold you spellbound. Jeff Almeda is excellent in a supporting role.
Jolivet’s “Why Don’t We Just Play Salad Bowl” is a tough, adults-only play, followed by my favorite, Ray Battochio’s “Goodie Bags,” which takes place in a bus station and involves one clever con game. Brava to Mary Kelleher DeBerry, who played the pivotal role of the older woman while fighting a bad cold.
Mark Harvey Levine’s “A Fit of Pique” closed the evening with a West Coast approach that contrasted our local playwrights.
Artists Exchange is operated by Gateways to Change, Inc. and involves a number of very special people in their productions, many of them clients and students of Lester, whose passion shows through in the works.
Admission is $15. Check them out at www.artists-exchange.org.