American Century Theater Drama Under the InfluenceBy Lisa Kay Morton • Feb 28th, 2007 • Category: Reviews
American Century Theater is presenting a thematic banquet of bite-sized drama in Arlington, Virginia. Conceived and directed by Steven Mazzola it features the works of female playwrights from the 1920′s and 1930′s. Drama Under the Influence features plays by Sophie Treadwell, Susan Glaspell, Gertrude Stein, Dorothy Parker, Eulalie Spence, and Rita Wellman.
The evening moves along well with a variety of different pieces all unified through various elements including a fixed set with minimal props, a small but diverse troupe of actors and ‘snapshots’ from one of the pieces by Gertrude Stein. The program is entertaining in it’s variety and it’s clever staging and visual punch. Director Mazzola has an eye for style and works effectively to create a variety of tableaus within each individual section and the work as a whole which make it a pleasure to watch… literally.
Each of the playwrights has a distinct tone, language, theme reflected in her works. Some very intellectual and artistic— others a little less dramatic — or even melodramatic as was the common tone of the day. Some of the themes and the dramatists treatment proved that good drama can be timeless. The language and the costumes may point to an era but the themes are relevant for all generations. The troupe is over all very consistent with some exceptional moments by actors Colby Codding, Jennifer B. Robison and Ellen Young.
For those of you who enjoy witty repartee you will most assuredly enjoy “Here We Are” and “Suppressed Desire” as an appetizer. If you are inclined towards a heavier bite of melodrama or mystery “Trifles” may set better on your palate, and if you enjoy the zest of choreographed nonsense you will find a tasty morsel in Gertrude Stein’s “Photographs.” Regardless of your preference, you won’t leave hungry.
The evening moves along well … from the absurd to the sublime with only a few lulls. Indulge! It is not an evening at Citronelle but it is a very satisfying snack theater…. Mangiamo!
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