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Act One ’95: Evening “a”

THE TALK

THE TALK

Ricky … Bruce MacVittie

Charlie … David Eigenberg

Sammy … Titus Welliver

Freddy … Saverio Guerra

BETRAYED BY EVERYONE

Jessica … Ria Pavia Adler

Warren … Mark Ruffalo

AFFECTIONS OF AN ALLEYCAT

Denise … Susan Barnes

Eddie … Arliss Howard

WATER AND WINE

Enrico … Adam Scott

Giovanni … Tom Bower

Buonarroti … Elias Koteas

Giuliano … Michael Mantell

YOU BELONG TO ME

Joyce … Kathryn Layng

Georgette … Lucinda Jenney

Larry … Tim Carhart

Ted … Lindsey Ginter

String Bass Player … Latif

THE JUICEMAN COMETH

Bob … Jay Patterson

Bill … Rick Zieff

Lucy … Sandy Martin

Jay … Sherman Howard

The Juicer … Brett Brown

Annual festival of one-act plays kicks off with fine acting and solid writing in Evening “A” program, which plays in rotating rep with two other evening play-blocks.

Play selection is strong, with comedy and drama represented in a mixture of contemporary, period and regional pieces. Themes and stories also are varied, from the role of the artist in Renaissance Italy to the homicidal fantasies of upper-middle-class New Yorkers to the existential secrets of the denizens of juice bars.

The evening, though three hours long, does have a fun and festive feel, presenting a smorgasbord of American drama. And while there is some inherent competitiveness in this kind of festival, the pieces differ enough to defy head-to-head comparison.

Kenneth Lonergon’s “Betrayed by Everyone” matches lost souls in a New York apartment, while Wil Calhoun’s “Affections of an Alleycat” portrays the emotionally dispossessed in backwater New Orleans. Both pieces, vastly different , are rich and hypnotic.

Keith Reddin applies his characteristically offbeat wit to the murderous fantasies of husbands, wives and best friends in “You Belong to Me,” and Peter Spiro does a devastating and hilarious takeoff on juice bar culture in “The Juiceman Cometh.”

“Water and Wine” by Stuart Spencer is a complex, though overlong, riff on the nature and purpose of the artist. “The Talk” by Frank Pugliese is a somewhat cliched family drama.

Whatever the strengths and weaknesses of the plays — and these are mostly strong pieces — the acting is generally fine, with outstanding performances by Susan Barnes and Arliss Howard as the tragic pair in Calhoun’s play and Mark Ruffalo and Ria Pavia Adler as a very different urban couple in Lonergan’s piece.

Kathryn Layng, Lucinda Jenney and Timothy Carhart deliver hilarious performances in Reddin’s farce, and Jay Patterson, Rick Zieff and Sherman Howard are delicious as the die-hards of Spiro’s juice bar bonanza. Tom Bower and Michael Mantell also are excellent in their contemporary approach to Spencer’s period piece.

Direction by Fisher Stevens, Frank Pugliese, Risa Bramon Garcia, Harris Yulin , W.H. Macy and James Eckhouse is strong, as are sets and production values.

Act One '95: Evening "a"

(Met Theater, Hollywood; 99 seats; $ 19 top)

Production: Showtime Networks presents one-act plays by Frank Pugliese, Kenneth Lonergan , Wil Calhoun, Stuart Spencer, Keith Reddin, Peter Spiro. Directed by Fisher Stevens, Frank Pugliese, Risa Bramon Garcia, Harris Yulin, W.H. Macy, James Eckhouse.

Creative: Set design, Richard Hoover, Denise Hudson; lighting design, Rand Ryan; costume design, Taylor Kincaid Cheek; sound design and music, Ben Decter. Evening "A" opened April 28, 1995; runs through May 27. (Festival runs through June 26, 1995). Running time: 3 hours.

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