By LEONARDO TADDEI For The News-Letter
Those who say that there are no more talented playwrights in America should definitely have gone to see the four original plays performed at the Witness Theater Company’s fall showcase at the Swirnow Theater on the weekend of Sept. 25.
Pepe Muniz’s fantastic work as a producer put on four unique plays which were neither predictable nor prosaic and were capable of raising deep emotions and non-trivial causes for reflection.
Beyond a shadow of a doubt, the best moment of the showcase was “The Bartering Poet” by freshman Giovanna Molina.
This skit proved to be a very interesting concept which, from a certain point of view, resembled a reverie play in the style of William Shakespeare mixed with a modern, everyday-life record. The over-the-top acting was very appropriate for the play and not neglected at all by freshman Rachel Underweiser and sophomore Freddie McCall, each of whom put on a superlative performance directed by the skillful sophomore Sharon Maguire.
Another noteworthy aspect of the showcase was the undeniable talent of senior Tatiana Nya Ford who played the titular character in “Eleanor Rigby,” written by senior Utkarsh Rajawat. She is definitely the most precious pearl in the company because she is always able to put real, inspired passion into her characters. She monopolized the attention of the entire audience with her charming allure.
Despite being hardly realistic, Aavik Parkrasi played the role of Father McKenzie and took too long pauses and lacked the necessary rhythm although she kept a very high level on stage. She was in fact plausible in all the difficult facets of the unpredictable Eleanor — from the moment she is quietly seated on a armchair to when she cuts her wrists and bleeds to death.
Also appreciable was the direction of “Limits and Discontinuities” by sophomore Monika Borkovic. The plot is interesting in itself because it offers stimulating food for thought about homosexuality and how difficult it can be for a young girl to deal with the personal acceptance of her emotions.
Freshman Celia Freed and Sarina Redzinski, who played Meredith and Jenny, created something special in the theater despite improbable costuming and the empty boxes from which they pretended to eat Chinese food. They evoked that aspect which is always rare even for professional companies: truth.
The two girls were dealing with an unresolved lesbian affair, reproduced with vivid suspense an alive cliff-hanger, sparking the fire between them in that pleasantly endless instant of silence in which they looked into each other eyes. That glitter was almost tangible.
Unfortunately the most shaky performance was at the beginning of the showcase — the family argument depicted in “The Bike People” by sophomore Renee Scavone. It seemed that the understanding between actors wasn’t worked out enough by sophomore director Lillian Kairis. Sometimes they assumed unintelligible positions on stage, even turning their backs to the audience.
Furthermore senior Neil Chapel was just a little too clumsy in the role of Nate although he had overall wherewithal in terms of stage presence. His low volume, a result of inadequate diaphragmatic support, his excessive mumbling and his pretending without dominating the action certainly did not help the gifted sophomore Ian Stark who interpreted Vance to be fluid in his posture. The only contribution capable of restoring an appropriate amount of realistic emotional ardor to the play was the gorgeous Alana Di Sabatino in the role of Jane.
Nevertheless the effort that everyone put into this production was remarkable, including that of members of the technical staff who efficiently handled the behind-the-scenes issues. All things considered, the possibility of admiring such a high expression of talented contemporary playwrights for the price of three dollars a ticket is a huge opportunity nowadays for anyone interested in modern theater.