As different as they are delightful, the new plays that are part of EATFest: Spring 2005 make a strong showing. The festival's first selections, those of Series A, range in theme from an estranged middle-aged couple sharing a holiday in a hostile, Third World vacation spot, to a young girl trying to connect with her parents at her greatest moment of fear and separation, to a zany look at the dating destiny of a gay man at 40. Though varying in theme and tone, what the plays share is a vein of sweet and sad acceptance. With humor, irony, and sensitivity, each is touching and unique.
In the first, Foreign Bodies, it is clear from the start that Victoria and Maz are incapable of leaving behind memories of their cold British lives long enough to enjoy the first moments of their holiday abroad. In fact, the extremes to which they go, popping "harmony pills" to forget their dreary home life, numb them to the point of oblivion.
Written by Andrew Biss and directed by Dylan McCullough, Foreign Bodies is a gleefully dire, tongue-in-cheek look at how we lose our perceptiveness the more we try to smooth out the edges of our lives and relationships. Kurt Kingsley as Max and Laura Fois as Victoria are sharp and very funny as their characters, wide-eyed and unconcerned, banter casually and eventually turn a blind eye to imminent dangers.
In Asteroid Belt, Carly, a young college student on her way home from a play rehearsal, realizes in the play's opening minutes that she is about to die in a car accident. In that moment, she attempts to logically reflect on the illogical elements that placed her in such danger. In doing so, she also tries to connect with her parents by following them in spirit through the routine of worrying about the late-night whereabouts of their child.
Writer Lauren Feldman creates impressively touching characters with her simple use of detail. Carly's father, Jay (Sam Sagenkahn), tries to distract his anxious wife, Sue (Valerie David), by poking fun at her dislike of Mary Higgins Clark. And Carly reflects that she is ill equipped to handle her accident because she was "never good at spontaneity," and that if she had been, she would have gone into "firefighting...or improv."
Directed by Caden Hethorn, these characters all come to life with warmth and realism, particularly Carly (Rachel Eve Moses), who gives the most affecting performance of the evening.
The final play, Invisible, written by Marc Castle and directed by Mark Finley, is the most absurd and the most fun. In a gay nightclub, Jerry (Jack Garrity), who has just turned 40, is perplexed when his advances on younger men are worse than ignored