This Side of Sweetwater

Michael Van Duzer Reviews - Theater

This Side of Sweetwater is something different for a Fringe production. Not that there aren’t plenty of one-act collections playing in the Festival, but this production has a unique purpose. The five short plays being performed are a salute to the playwright, Tom Stanczyk. They are also an elegy, as Stanczyk passed away last Fall.

These plays reveal Stanczyk as a playwright concerned with exploring the soul. Though the pieces vary in style, the general tone is bittersweet, and the primary focus is human interaction, mostly dealing with loving relationships struggling under some kind of pressure.

In the most playful piece, 8 min., Annelisha Dixon and Matthew Leddy invade each other’s dreams with job-related and sexual demands.

I’ve Always Wanted to Write a Play, features Keith Ewell and Cheryl Huggins in a drama of discomfort wherein a couple fails to connect as they prepare to entertain.

Gay Wedding sounds sillier than it is. There are laughs from the antics of the drunk grooms and the general bad behavior, but the underlying tone is melancholy. The cast features Darryl Armbruster, Brice Mitchell Williams, Marisa O'Brien, Aaron Lyons and Anastasia Narinskiy.

Close is the longest and most complex of the plays. It is also the only one to have been previously produced. Bryan Bellomo, Lauren Van Kurin, Amir Levi and Demetris Hartman play two couples whose lives accidentally collide when two of them meet under strange and special circumstances.

Tony Foster has written the final play, Part, as a personal acknowledgement of Stanczyk. Brendan Farrell and Tarah Pollock are the couple who move from fighting about hairstyles to breaking the fourth wall and commenting on the writing.

The entire cast is strong and obviously committed to taking part in this because of their relationship with Tom Stanczyk. (No roles are doubled.) Each show also has the luxury of its own director: Amy French, Marisa O’Brien, Katherine Barcsay, Hoan Zeidler and Shaina Rosenthal.

Spend an hour with Mr. Stanczyk and his friends. You won’t regret it.

McCadden Place Theatre    June 10 – June 24, 2017