Blue Room’s latest Fresh Ink is funniest in years
Fresh Ink is the Blue Room’s ninth return to its annual showcase for local writers. This year, playwrights Steve Metzger, David Davalos, Dylan Latimer and Betty Burns were chosen to pen new works for the festival. Introduced to a pre-selected cast, handed a fortune from a fortune cookie and the requirement to use the word “laconic,” they had a week to write a 15-30-minute play incorporating these elements. Directors Paul Stout, Callen Reece, Rob Wilson and Alice Wiley Pickett were then given nine days to rehearse.
The result? The tightest and funniest New Works Festival that I can recall.
Metzger’s “I Got You, Babe” was a potentially un-PC comedy about a blind semi-professional lounge singer, his evil-minded wife and a visitor from his distant past bearing an unexpected revelation. With fingernails-on-chalkboard renditions of lounge “classics” and sightless gropings breezing past caricature, this almost ended with one thinking that it was a deliberate attempt to torture the audience, save for one final gesture.
“Wrong Play” was Davalos’ breezy and witty dip into existential comedy, as four actors sit out an evening’s rehearsal doing everything but rehearsing, indulging instead in verbal gymnastics and one-"gunmanship.”
Blue Room co-founder Latimer returned with “Sabina, the Original Honky and the Gobo Slot Suicide Squad,” the most serious-minded of the lot, yet still offering up more than its share of laughs with the musings of a man being ferried to the afterlife and the women who were the death of him.
Rounding out the night was Burn’s “Cliché,” a straight farce that seemingly lived up to the name, presenting broadly sketched caricatures of a waitress, fortune teller, cop and salesman, and their intersecting paths in a diner, ultimately more about the final moment than what preceded.
As to be expected within the demands of such a tight creative schedule, there were some almost unnoticeable opening-night choppy moments, but then that same process also complemented the production with a certain high-wire frisson that you don’t get from "polished" productions.