Best of Marathon — Series A” presents three of the top six winning one-acts from the Attic Theatre’s recent One Act/New Directors Marathon, where 13 plays competed. As representative of “the best,” the results are quite mixed, with problems mostly in the writing; much of the acting is impressive.
“Reaching Out” by Irl Mowery comes across as a public service announcement about AIDS — certainly needed, but not dramatic.
Roger (Willem Young) tries to deal with the recent death of his son from AIDS. James (Fred Claasen), an attorney and AIDS awareness volunteer, and lover Theo (Timothy Groff) lend comfort.
Director Jack Harpman blocks well, but Young seems miscast: appearing in his mid-40s, he has a line about his 39-year-old son, and does not come across as the macho Texan that the script suggests. Claasen creates a strong character in James, a man with an ex-wife and two sons who has changed lifestyles and feels not only good about it, but also gives his own dwindling time to help others.
First place winner “What You See Is What You Get?” by Patricia Lawson Gow is a well-executed and amusing skit, but not a full play. Structurally, it offers no new turn in events.
Laurie (Danielle Marr), 51, and 53-year-old Sam (Gil Roscoe) meet to consummate their budding romance. Their age, however, brings certain hurdles.
While they are eager to be honest, they are reticent to admit that they have various, often physical, drawbacks. The humor grows as the drawbacks come to light.
Rather than push the humor broadly, director Carey Corr lets his fine cast center themselves as two sensitive people in love.
Second-place winner, “The Cancer Club,” by Donn Short, offers the evening’s most adventurous directing. The script — like “Reaching Out,” addressing a disease but not didactic — runs far too long. Director Dawn McMahan covers some of the problem with always inventive, sometimes excessive, use of a bare stage, but much could be cut.
The cast particularly shines with the likes of Holley Chant (as a breast cancer victim), Chris Gossett (a man with cancer from AIDS) and Chris Morris (a now bald, macho man with testicular cancer).
Don Lucas, Carol Tisch, Scott Crawford and Mark Mandell also add their talents.