Five-sixths of this all-Ives package is thoroughly engaging and brilliantly witty. But the David Mamet parody, which takes a "Compleat Wrks of Wllm Shkspr" approach to retelling four of Mamet's plays, is bound to offend. (Unless you enjoy a constant stream of foul language.) But that's the way Mamet writes.
Overall, however, all three directors and the entire ensemble (Kathryn Atwood, Mark Chambers, Jeanette Puhich, Theresa Ravnikar, Dustin Todd and Kim Weiss) does an outstanding job of staging the vignettes.Here are minireviews of each segment:
- Foreplay, or: the Art of the Fugue has all six players exploring various seduction rituals at different stages of life. The three guys (named Chuck I, II and III) escort first-time dates (Amy, Annie and Alma) around Lilli-Putt Lane, a miniature golf course. It's an intriguing scenario, despite quite a few risque innuendoes (It's surprising how many golfing terms have sexual connotations: "score" . . . "lay of the land" . . . etc.) Directed by David Mong.
- Mere Mortals is one of best of the lot. Three construction workers are taking their lunch break astride a girder on the 50th floor of a building project. Their topics of conversation range from the Lindbergh baby kidnapping and Nicholas & Alexandra to Marie Antoinette. Believe it or not, there's a connection. Directed by Craig Rich.
- Time Flies, also directed by Rich, has two newly acquainted mayflies - Atwood and Chambers - flitting through their short existence and watching David Attenborough (Todd) host a TV documentary called "Swamp Life." (It's either that or tune into Jeff Goldblum's version of "The Fly," a truly disgusting alternative.) Slightly erotic, but fun.
- Speed-the-Play, directed by Tracy Callahan, jams four of David Mamet's plays ("American Buffalo," "Speed-the-Plow," "Sexual Perversity in Chicago" and "Oleanna" into roughly 10 minutes of endless smut. "Oleanna" is the least offensive one of the bunch.
- Dr. Fritz: Or the Forces of Light pits Tom (Chambers), a chap suffering from food poisoning while vacationing in a Third World country, against souvenir seller Maria (Puhich), who's little emporium apparently doubles as the reception desk for Dr. Fritz. This is a wonderful little piece. Directed by Callahan.
- Degas, C'est Moi, directed by Keven Myhre (who also designed the entire show's excellent sets and costumes), is among the cleverest of the six plays. Kim Weiss portrays an average guy named Ed, who suddenly announces that he is Edgar Degas, the long-dead French impressionist painter. He manages to elicit a variety of responses as his relates with different people along the way.
- Sensitivity rating: An abundance of profanity and vulgarity (but not in all six plays).