Fresh Ink Blue Room Thurs., June 2 Shows Thurs.-Sat., June 9-11, 7:30 p.m.
What do a reference to Hooker Oak, an unlit cigarette, the sound of a helicopter flying overhead, 15 seconds of silence and the word “perfidy” have in common? Just enough to tie together four new, locally written plays at the Blue Room.
Anne Wycoff’s “No News Is Good News” does play pretty heavily on the Hooker Oak reference in the character of Stephanie Come-Lately, an adult entertainer played to tawdry perfection by Stephanie Gilbert, but it’s John Steven Swim’s tragically hilarious environmentalist rants that really carry the weight. Arielle Mullen and Thomas Owen provide excellent support as a Channel 12 reporter and homeless preacher, respectively.
Amy Antongiovanni’s “What the Grass Says” takes an expressionistic look at the writer’s process and how it can be aided or encumbered by the intrusions of editors, spouses, tangled love interests, impending birth and premonitions of death. The cast does a great job conveying an emotionally complex and symbolically intricate story.
My favorite of the four plays, “Darker, Deeper,” by Martin Chavira, effectively mixes comedy and dramatic symbolism in a Twilight Zone-esque story of a quest for redemption that involves the confession of deep secrets, a supernatural encounter and an examination of the selfishness of retaining guilt. And it’s funny. That takes some doing.
The one flat-out comedy is show-closer “Waiting for Vader,” by Jeremy Votava, and the unbroken comic tone and witty dialogue of four characters waiting in line on opening night of the new Star Wars movie serve as a sweet dessert after the emotional complexities of the first three pieces.
This fun, fresh night of quality theater is highly recommended.