Thank Father; Harold Is in the Study

The Showcase Playhouse is an ambitious theater company: Its production of two one-act plays by John Corig shows sparks of talent and ingenuity in spite of the writer's stilted scenes, characters and dialogue.

With:
Alfredo ... Al Calabrese Louie/Harold ... Charles Edwards Wiebke ... Havaja Nyla ... Natalie Brunt Kenneth ... William Oliver

The Showcase Playhouse is an ambitious theater company: Its production of two one-act plays by John Corig shows sparks of talent and ingenuity in spite of the writer’s stilted scenes, characters and dialogue.

Both one-acts have the theme of a generational power struggle, where two men are disappointed in life and in each other; the only commonality is their anger. In both plays women are one-dimensional props, eagerly available for masochistic sex.

For some inexplicable reason, both plays take place in 1953.

In “Thank Father,” dreams and reality seem topsy-turvy to those on stage as well as to the audience. Distressed dad Alfredo (Al Calabrese) is crying, mainly in Italian, about regrets concerning son Louie (Charles Edwards), who is speaking to him from the afterlife, in hell.

Is Alfredo dreaming? Or is he experiencing it as part of a drunken delusion concerning his guilt about having a girlfriend, Wiebke (Havaja) while his wife was still alive?

This 20-minute play provides little or no character development or understanding.

“Harold Is in the Study” focuses on a Cornell U. professor, his rich, snobby wife, and the professor’s farmer uncle, who’s visiting. Uncle Kenneth (William Oliver) confronts Nyla (Natalie Brunt) about how her wealth and sexual energy have corrupted her hubby Harold (Charles Edwards). Nyla explains her husband can’t study unless he beats his wife. She states, “Faucets leak, why can’t the truth?”

When Uncle Ken reflects on the pain and regret of losing control of his nephew, and his disdain for the idle rich, he exclaims, “Taming a hussy is like beating a heifer.”

Oliver is the most engaging actor of the evening. The rest of the cast make commendable efforts to turn their characters into lifelike human beings.

Most outstanding aspect of the show is the vivid, glorious set design by Mark Ferraro, Jim Corigliano and Anna Giron. First, they transform the stage into a black-and-white dream, creating the impression of looking inside a B&W TV screen. Later, the stage becomes an elegant drawing room draped in burgundy velvet and Chippendale furniture.

Directors Mark Ferraro and Juan Drago keep the momentum and energy at high levels at all times.

Thank Father; Harold Is in the Study

(Showcase Playhouse, Hollywood; 36 seats; $ 10 top)

Production: The Showcase Playhouse presents two one-act dramas by John Corig. Producers, Jim Corigliano, Robert Hernandez; directors, Juan Drago ("Harold"), Mark Ferraro ("Thank Father").

Creative: Sets, Ferraro, Corigliano, Anna Giron; sound, Ferraro, Sam Kapeske; "Harold" theme music, Nick Chetkovich; "Father" music, Charles Edwards; lighting, Bryant Golden. Opened July 17, 1993; reviewed Aug. 13; runs through Aug. 26.

Cast: Alfredo ... Al Calabrese Louie/Harold ... Charles Edwards Wiebke ... Havaja Nyla ... Natalie Brunt Kenneth ... William Oliver

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