Matthew Reddin
Theater

The Honeymoon Isn’t Over

Prepare to laugh. Pink Banana returns with with its festival of one-act plays.

By - Jun 6th, 2014 11:38 am
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Honeymoon is Over

Honeymoon is Over

PREVIEW: Pink Banana One-Act Festival: The Honeymoon Is Over

Make it through 10 years of anything, and you’ve got a pretty good sense of whether it’s going to fall apart at the slightest breeze or survive anything but the most catastrophic disaster. As it celebrates its 10th One-Act Festival and simultaneous 10th anniversary, Pink Banana looks increasingly sure of the latter description. The company, helmed by artistic director Matt Kemple and managing director Koren Black, has been a strong component of Milwaukee’s theater community for years, and their recent move into the Underground Collaborative in Grand Avenue Mall (alongside Kemple’s other venture, Milwaukee Comedy) has given them the opportunity to serve as a resource for rising theatrical stars.

For their one-act festival, though, they’ll return to Next Act Theatre, which has hosted Pink Banana’s seasonal centerpiece for the last few years. Each year, their One-Act Festival takes a specific theme or focus as an organizing principle, and this year’s is especially fitting: The Honeymoon Is Over. It’s a jumping off point that could take writers and directors in all sorts of directions – and it’s clear from the look of the eight plays lined up that Pink Banana has an opportunity to explore lots of them.

The nice thing about a show like this – if you don’t like one of the short plays, another’ll be along soon – but just in case you need more reassurance, here’s a run-down of the plays to be performed:

  • The Adjective Noun of Character, by Joshua H. Cohen. Directed by Paul Matthew Madden and featuring Clarence Amund and Ashley Retzlaff.

Cohen must have felt like he hit the jackpot when he saw Pink Banana’s call for scripts, since this domestic comedy’s set right in the moment when a pair of married hipsters reach their breaking point. Where’s the comedy come in? Their critical moment occurs over a game of Mad Libs. It’s just the quirky sort of premise Pink Banana’s one-act festivals thrive on.

  • After the Silence, by Anne Maria Wynter. Directed by Mary K. Ryan and featuring Dale Jackson and Venice Watson

Wynter wrote After the Silence as part of a series of plays about the residents of a single apartment complex, but if Pink Banana’s selected it for their festival it should be strong enough to stand alone. Mary K. Ryan, last seen directing her own play, Use No Place Soon, over at the Alchemist, will be taking on this exploration of the surprising intimacy that springs up between people who share walls.

  • After You, written by Daria Miyeko Marinelli. Directed by Rebecca Segal and featuring Deanna Strasse, Philip Sletteland, Joshua Devitt, and Michelle White

In this play, former lovers try to put the pieces back together with a series of post-breakup dates.

  • Chosen, written by D. L. Siegel. Directed by Bryan Quinn and featuring Liz Leighton, Zay Turner, Zachary McLain, Heather Reynolds-Coonen, and Maureen M. Chobanoff

Yet another genre-bending show, taking what could be (and was, according to a Siegel interview) pretty serious and dramatic subject matter and giving it a sharp comic edge. In this case, the subject is a young Jewish girl, torn between her strict religious family and a boyfriend they can’t accept. It does have the burden of cliche hanging onto it, but I’m confident Quinn – who, last year, directed one of the funniest one-act plays I’ve seen – will cast that off easily.

  • The Craft, written by Andrew Biss. Directed by Grace DeWolff and featuring Jonathon Weisse and Amanda Eaton

Whether you like The Craft may depend on whether or not metatheater’s your cup of tea. This 10-minute play dramatizes the interior monologues of two actors performing the climactic love scene of a boring drama once again – two actors who completely loathe each other.

  • Don’t Toy With Me, written by Andrew Black. Directed by Tim Palecek and featuring Sam Robinson, Marcus Beyer, and Michelle White

It’s hard to imagine Pink Banana not even considering this play, about the romantic entanglements of Ken, G.I. Joe and Malibu Barbie. But from what I’ve gleaned of Black’s one-act, it’s the way he “toys” with that setup that gives the play its interest.

  • Honestly, written by Steven Korbar. Directed by Michael T. Black and featuring Sam Robinson and Kathryn Hausman

It’s not just the honeymoon that’s over in this play – it’s the whole relationship. And that gives the playwright a unique launch point, with the couple in question finally free to be completely honest with each other.

  • Taps, written by Liz Leighton. Directed by Chris Goode and featuring Zoe Schwartz, Alexis Hamburg, and Harry Loeffler-Bell

Leighton’s the only local playwright in this year’s festival, but she’s a fairly new face on the scene – recently graduated from UWM and fresh off the staging of her play Learner’s Permit by The World’s Stage Theatre Company earlier this year.

Pink Banana’s One-Act Festival: The Honeymoon Is Over, runs June 6 to 14, at Next Act Theatre. Tickets are $20 at the door and $18 in advance. For more information, visit Pink Banana’s website or call (414) 949-7282.

 

PREVIEW: Follies, at Soulstice Theatre

Set at the reunion of an acclaimed, ‘20s-era troupe of chorus girls and performers, Stephen Sondheim’s Follies is one of his most poignant works, taking as its subject the regrets of life itself, presenting two couples years after their former friendship has been torn asunder and their marriages have faded into boring routines. It’s also one of his most diverse and complex, requiring a talented cast capable of taking on every element of the vaudeville-esque score, filled with show stopping numbers of all sorts. To hit their target on both poignancy and complexity, Soulstice has arranged the show in a concert version, eschewing the pageantry of a fully staged production in order to give their cast a better opportunity to tell Sondheim’s story.

Follies runs at Soulstice Theatre from June 6 to 21. Tickets are $20, $18 for students/seniors/military, and can be ordered at (414) 481-2800 or Soulstice’s online box office.

 

PREVIEW: Combat!: The Musical, by Bunny Gumbo

Bunny Gumbo’s well-known in the theater scene as the purveyor of an excellent behind-the-scenes blog that posts audition notices and general information, especially for smaller, independent companies. But when the company gets together to put on a show, it’s something to be seen in and of itself, and their latest production is no exception. It’s an installment of Bunny Gumbo’s trademark Combat Theater – where they take a group of writers, directors and actors and challenge them to produce a play from scratch in 48 hours – but there’s two catches this time around. First off, it’s Combat!: The Musical, meaning they’re throwing composers into the mix too. And as if that wasn’t challenging enough, the eight writer and musician teams will be collaborating on the same musical, each writing a fraction of the whole and passing it along to the next. It’s destined to be an unpredictable evening – and, hopefully, an enormously entertaining one.

Combat!: The Musical will be performed once, on Saturday, June 7 at 8 p.m. at the Milwaukee Youth Arts Center. Tickets are $18 and can be ordered at the door only.

 

CLOSING THIS WEEK:

 

Skylight Music Theatre: Hair, through June 8

Fireside Theater: Fiddler on the Roof, through June 8

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