HATTheatre’s one-act series ‘Connected’ fails to connect
One-act plays have a rhythm and life all their own. Young actors are usually introduced to them as part of their high school theatre season or at One-Act Play Competitions. The greatest writers have all written one-act plays.
I’m not talking about the current trend to write 90-100 minute plays without intermission that suit the general public’s preference for brevity. Such plays are not long One-Act plays but rather a Two Act play written in the 90 minute One-Act form. Plays of less than twenty minutes must have fully formed ideas, themes and character development that are intended to be delivered in just that length. Totally finished. With a ten-minute length there is no time to ramp it up. Directors and actors must have made smart, strong choices for their skits to succeed.
HAT Theater’s “Black Box Players” chose ten scripts which ranged in quality. The ones I liked best were David Ives’ “Sure Thing,” Lisa Solange’s “An Earthquake,” Steven Dietz’ “Left to Right,” and Janet Kenney’s “Ma in Her Kerchief.”
The collection is entitled Connected, an evening of one act relationship plays. In honor of Valentine’s Day I’d guess. Slightly conventional. From pickups to marriage to interracial marriage to inter-marriage entanglements. Although it’s mostly fun to watch men and women spar, I did notice the absence of same-sex relationships amongst the ten selections. Couples are couples in any combination and they’re all very hard to keep together. There are appropriate LGBT one-act plays available, so I am curious. Is it a West End thing? HAT is the closest theater to my house so I have some worries.
Taken as a whole, the bonding that adults seem compelled to do with each other is pretty comical.
There is some very good acting to be seen. Annie Zanetti, Patricia Alli and Dani Brown all gave very affecting performances.
But the performances in general were not helped by uninspired staging. The HAT theater space is long and narrow. The dimensions pose staging challenges. The excellent shows I have seen there have all found a way to use this space creatively. Here, too many scenes were played in the open, creating one of my favorite circles of hell, the “Empty Space.” Unless you’re Peter Brook, it’s quicksand.
The staging was static. Standing and talking. Sitting and talking. There was little attempt to manipulate the space. The more experienced players found ways to shake it up but there were not enough of those moments.
There was also a fair amount of line dropping with shaky recoveries.
I attended Henrico Theater Company’s One-Act Play festival earlier in the day so I have now been immersed in the dramatic form. On the whole, I love the challenge it presents. What I didn’t understand is that one-acts have a higher degree of difficulty. HAT may not have expected or been ready for that.
Connected didn’t connect very well and left some good actors stranded. Henrico needs stronger theater. Why should Richmond have all the fun?
Quill Theatre pays tribute to African American vaudeville pioneer Bert Williams in ‘The Top of Bravery’
When you ask someone about Bert Williams, many people are going to give you a blank look. Even plenty of theatre folks may scrunch up their nose in confusion at the question. And, why wouldn’t they? Vaudeville, and particularly minstrelsy, are relics of a bygone age that are rarely discussed as part of the performing [...]January 11, 2017
- Nathaniel Shaw takes the reins at Virginia Repertory Theatre, December 28, 2016
- ‘After Orlando’ unites theatre companies around the country (and here in RVA) to honor lives lost in the nation’s largest mass shooting, December 7, 2016
- Dogtown Dance Theatre seeking submissions for 2017 Richmond Dance Festival, November 18, 2016
- Prev Del. Bob Marshall’s bill to remove protections for LGBTQ teachers and students passes House subcommittee
- Next Orange is the New Black confirmed for 3 more seasons, season 4 teaser released
- Back to top
- Strangeways Brewing hosting Cheers 4 Charity event to benefit Diversity Richmond 1/25
- ANONHI (Formerly Antony) and Cocorosie team up for “Smoke´em Out” ahead of Trump inauguration
- We were wrong… Del Bob Marshall actually has FOUR anti-LGBTQ bills this session
- First same-sex marriage related bill dies in VA Senate committee (expectedly)
- Longtime RVA lesbian activist Beth Marschak’s speech from March on Monument