Fronteras Americanas (American Borders): Canadian playwright Guillermo Verdecchia’s award-winning 1993 one man play, with updated multi-media effects and references (Javier Bardem, Penelope Cruz) is a thought-provoking, highly creative exploration of the impact borders can have on our lives, from the personal to the global. Taut with evocative language (English and Spanish) and resounding dramatic rhythm, the play evolves from cultural etymology through satire, stereotype expose, dream sequence and flashback. David Wilson-Brown re-creates Verdecchia’s semi-autobiographic work as if it were his own, raging and whispering, storming and elucidating a philosophical intellectual point with committed passion and easy, artistic fluency. Directed masterfully by UT/Arlington’s Dennis Maher, Wilson-Brown addresses his audience up close and personal, never hesitating to make direct eye contact or revel in the occasional discomfort he may cause a front row “gringo” with his hyper antics. Act II concludes as a manifesto for tolerance and respect for personal borders while acknowledging what the 1819 Simon Bolivar Congress of Angostura resolved, that “we were all born of one mother America.”
RATING: “Must see” theatre, a fine example of social commentary wedded to pure theatrical entertainment. Resumes Sat., March 10 at 5pm, Sunday March 11 at 2pm
12 Scene Madness by the Purple Crayon of Yale: Here’s a quirky entertainment, part of an almost 30-year-old tradition by energetic undergraduate students at prestigious Yale University. An hour-long immersion in the art and craft of improvisation, as such its success (and entertainment value) can depend on the scene and character suggestions that the audience provides. Along the lines of jazz riffing, the group creates vignettes on the spot based on audience’s suggestions and rides them out until they fizzle. This is REALLY hard to do, folks, and maintain vitality and originality for more than about fifteen minutes. The performance I witnessed was c. 95% successful with some truly interesting scenes and characters developed and explored. Local groups attempting to pull this off tend to go flat within the first ten minutes and rely too heavily on frat-boy style humor and bathroom/ body function jokes. The Purple Crayon bunch score 100% in my book for non-scatalogical, unpredictable, imaginative material. They far outpaced the national tour of “Second City Improv” that stopped in Dallas last fall and seemed uninspired, almost canned. Given the energy the Yale Purples expend, I imagine they eat heartily and sleep like logs afterwards. Is improvisation your thing? Here’s where to see it done right. http://www.yale.edu/crayon
RATING: “Might see”, a must if it’s your bag. Only one show, and it’s now past tense. Saturday March 3, 10pm
Raspberry Fizz: Audacity Theatre Lab brings out Brad McEntire’s sweet little “short story” of a play about two mid 20th century teen-agers on a stoop, learning to negotiate the tricky pathways of male/female attraction and communication, while a carnival barker interjects a darker level of commentary on life’s risks in a nearby fantasy reality. It’s charming to watch, directed handily by Andy Baldwin, and features regional favorites Jeff Swearingen, Natalie Young and Shane Beeson in its three roles with minor props or set elements. It feels like a work in the germinating stage, more of an appetizer than a full meal. Cleverly written and very well acted, you’ll finish wanting to know what happens next….
RATING: “Might see”, depending on what it’s paired with. Runs Tuesday, March 6 at 7:30pm, and Friday, March 8 at 8pm.