Center Stage with Pat Launer on KSDS JAZZ88
November 30, 2012
It can be your mortal clock – or your mortal enemy. Time is of the essence in three diverse theater offerings.
The stage is cluttered with clocks in “Hickory Dickory ,” the third work by Chicago playwright Marisa Wegrzyn that Moxie Theatre has produced. And it’s one of the more eccentric – equal parts sci-fi, time-travel and multi-generational love story. And like her “Butcher of Baraboo,” there’s a bit of blood and guts.
Wegrzyn won the 2009 Wendy Wasserstein Prize for this play, which is funny, quirky, thought-provoking and heartwarming, especially with Moxie’s crackerjack cast under the taut direction of Jennifer Eve Thorn.
Jimmy’s family, in the clock repair business for generations, specializes in the “mortal clocks” that each of us has embedded in our bodies, timepieces that foretell the precise moment of our death. The plot gets a little convoluted, with its cross-generational comings and goings, and its gory surgeries. But the notion of being “tethered” to someone you love, and being able to transfer some of your time, is certainly intriguing. The comic standout in the inspired ensemble is Samantha Ginn , hilarious as the unwitting, wacked-out mother whose inner clock stopped at 17.
Time is also running out for Oya in the magical, mythical “In the Red and Brown Water,” the first part of an acclaimed African American trilogy by theater wunderkind Tarell Alvin McCraney . Part Two, “The Brothers Size,” will be presented at the Old Globe in January.
In the mystical, clever, hip and humorous Part One, Oya is a beautiful and talented sprinter, carried by the wind and swarmed by men. In Yoruba mythology, Oya is the warrior spirit of wind and fertility. Most of the other characters also bear names and features of Yoruban deities. But McCraney was also inspired by Federico Garcia Lorca’s Spanish tragedy, “ Yerma ,” about a childless woman who se desperate desire for motherhood becomes a self-destructive obsession. The skillful faculty director, Gregory Wallace, who performed in the trilogy in San Francisco, shepherds a wonderful, supple cast of UCSD grad students. The playwright has a unique and compelling voice, both muscular and lyrical, that definitely should be heard.
Speaking of voices, if you love tight harmonies, and can remember Perry Como and Rosemary Clooney, “Plaid Tidings” is the holiday treat for you. It’s a slice of the ‘Forever Plaid’ cottage industry, reprising many songs – and the ever-popular ‘Ed Sullivan Show’ – of the original, where a third-rate foursome that met an untimely death comes back – once again – for the performance they never had in life. In the competent New Village Arts production, directed by Jason Heil, the vocals are fine, but the personalities aren’t sharply distinguished.
Time plays tricks in all three plays… and makes us consider our own mortality – whether in fantasy, gritty poetry or song.
The UCSD production of “In the Red and Brown Water” runs through December 1 in the Mandell Weiss Forum on the La Jolla campus.
“Hickory Dickory ” plays through December 16 at Moxie Theatre, near SDSU.
“Plaid Tidings” harmonizes through December 24 at New Village Arts in Carlsbad.
©2012 PAT LAUNER