Despite its provocative title, Sharon Lintz’s Starf*cking is not a sensational tale of the seamy side of Hollywood. Her loosely linked monologues, along with a single two-person scene, are a sensitive examination of how the public’s obsession with celebrity can inform crucial moments in their lives.
Alternately humorous and poignant, the scenes play mostly in the privacy of a bedroom. Lintz’s pungent dialog is so specific that even characters we assume we know surprise us. Martin (Stephen DeCordova) longs for the now forbidden sensual pleasure cinema goddesses of the 30’s took from smoking. In the most overtly comic episode, the hilariously high-octane Mary (Kelly Schumann) relates how a marionette led her to an afternoon on a porn set. A genial Randy (Blaine Vedros), overshares a bit when he reveals his special use of Kurt Cobain as a sexual aid. While a rebellious Ruben (Tory Devon Smith) changes out of the suit he hates and dons his gay apparel, as he dreams of Egypt and Eminem. Patty (Dawn Joyal) makes us feel the heartbreak of a cancer patient calling on the young Elizabeth Taylor as her talisman. In the disappointing final scene, Meagan (Katy Yoder) and Jake (Ali Allie) bond over movies in a motel room.
Eric G. Johnson has directed the play with a sure hand, and the cast is eminently watchable. Though the final scene feels out of place, the rest of the production is worth your time.
Theatre Asylum Lab June 7 – June 27, 2015 Tickets: http://hff15.org/2192
Suicide Notes: In Their Own Words
Stan Zimmerman is always the funny guy. He's the writer with the jokes coming fast and farcical, from his work on the Brady Bunch movies, to countless TV shows, and his Fringe hit from last year, Meet and Greet, which went on to a regular run after the Festival ended.
But this year Zimmerman has moved out of his comfort zone with a project he is passionate about. A project born of his personal confrontation with the suicide of a friend and his realization people in pain are doing this all around us.
Suicide Notes: In Their Own Words is simply that. Suicide notes collected from people who, except in once instance, have successfully taken their lives. Some are famous, most you wouldn’t know. But their pain and the horrifying darkness that surround them is palpable in their last words. Words that are surprisingly cogent and memorable. Some choose to explain, others to blame, still more try to make sure that no remaining loved one feels blame.
As writer and director, Zimmerman has smartly chosen to present the words in as stark a manner as possible. The four talented actors, Olivia D’Abo, Allie Gonino, Peter Onorati and Brendan Robinson read the notes from music stands. While they imbue the words with feeling, there is no grandstanding. These final words are treated with respect and dignity.
Zimmerman has added some important statistics about suicide to put the notes into context. The show is difficult and may not be typical Fringe fare, but it earns its place there. And it definitely has a place beyond the confines of the Fringe. For in a world where so many are heartsick, bullied, survivors of war, mentally ill or just achingly lonely, the message of this piece should be heard. A portion of the proceeds for the show will go to the Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
Theatre Asylum June 19 – June 28, 20 15 Tickets: http://hff15.org/24
Heather R. Dowling has had 30 jobs in 30 years. She’s waited tables, worked in retail, been a reporter, even dabbled, highly unsuccessfully, at a Navy career. Sometimes the jobs were a search for meaning in life and sometimes they were a screen to hide behind. But in Unemployed Finally, Heather tells her tale of serial employment with good humor and the new-found knowledge that a job doesn’t necessarily make the woman.
Dowling is an energetic and engaging performer who makes you care about her crazy history, both the good and the bad. You root for her to find the right guy and then to take steps to realize the dream she’d lost track of. Of course, the title tells you that she’s made some changes, but her odyssey is worth your time.
Elephant Studio June 7 – 25, 2015