Pat Launer, Center Stage on KSDS JAZZ88
May 3, 2013
It’s a good week for homegrown authors and A.D.D. audiences.
If you like your comedy or drama in bites or bits, there’s a theater smorgasbord waiting for you. One of the offerings even comes with dessert; the other boasts an impressive local pedigree.
Kathy Najimy and Mo Gaffney cut their comic chops in San Diego, where both grew up. They went on to create “The Kathy and Mo Show: Parallel Lives,” which won an Obie Award, was broadcast on HBO, and played Off Broadway and on tour for years.
Now “Parallel Lives” has come home, even if Kathy and Mo haven’t. But they sent their fondest wishes to the folks at the Oceanside Theatre Company.
Director Tracy Williams, who teaches at Mira Costa College, nabbed two talented alums to revisit the funny/poignant montage of short pieces that cover everything from Creation to Catholicism, relationships to feminism, abortion to coming out to your family.
Virginia Gregg has superb physicality; her mimed female morning routine has the audience howling. Gerilyn Brault is a great mimic and adopter of accents. Together, they’re a terrific team, especially flexible and funny in “Disney Mom Group Therapy,” where the killed-off mothers of Bambi, Snow White, Nemo , Ariel, Dumbo and others, come together to lament their fates.
The show really picks up steam in the second act. The writing is sharp. The quick pace and gifted gals keep you wanting more.
Down in Golden Hill, small things are happening at the Big Kitchen, a landmark locale where Whoopi Goldberg once worked. You might recall that Whoopi and Kathy Najimy co-starred in “Sister Act.” Small world for San Diego comic spawn…
The Coffee Shop Chronicles is part of The New Play Café, a peripatetic group that presents new works and works-in-progress. Each of the eight 5-10 minute playlets is set in a coffee shop. Admission includes a beverage and desserts. The actors might even pour you a refill.
Most of the plays feel decidedly ‘in-progress,’ clever ideas that don’t always have a satisfying arc or button. They have a kind of geeky leaning, from technology in Teresa Beckwith’s jargon-laden “Message Send Failure” to “Terminator 4,” an intriguing, messianic piece by Jonathan Hammond, featuring Carla Nell, who directed several of the plays; Kym Pappas effectively helmed the rest.
A commanding God and scheming Devil meet the Greek goddess Artemis in Kevin Six’s “Between Heaven and Hell.” Wiccan incantations haunt Soroya Rowley’s “Witch Café,” and a fraught father-daughter relationship is the focus of Delia Knight’s compelling “Lock and Key.”
The ten actors perform convincingly, and the concept is imaginative. The good thing about short pieces is, if you’re not engaged or enthralled, there’s another little appeteaser coming along.
Consider it theatrical tapas. You may not feel fully sated, but your tastebuds will be tickled.
The Coffee Shop Chronicles plays through May 15 at The Big Kitchen in Golden Hill.
“Parallel Lives” runs through May 5 at the Oceanside Theatre Company.
©2013 PAT LAUNER