Sunday, May 9, 2010

Skin at the Strand

On Saturday evening at the Strand Theater, Playwrights Group of Baltimore presented "Skin in the Game," an anthology of short plays written by members of the Group. Different in style, each play pivots around the phrase "Skin in the Game," apparently coined by Warren Buffet to indicate passionate investment. A packed audience at the Strand witnessed staged readings of plays ranging from the melodramatic to the romantic to the fantasist.
Exploring the current recession, John Conley's "Leopard and Parcheesi" features a bankrupt middle-class couple facing exile in their run-down Poconos cabin. Alex Hewett and Rich Espey movingly portrayed the squabbling couple. Dwight Cook's "SIG Tea" presents two bickering gay friends discussing conquests and the perils of outing in a phone call. Richard Keller and Aaron Trent wittily depicted the sparring duo. In Peter Davis's "Undertow," a ruthless businessman (Kevin Griffin Moreno) unsuccessfully attempts to bulldoze his wife (Alex Hewett) and his professional assistant (Nancy Flores). Brent Englar's humorous "Plunge" celebrates an awkward triangle (Christopher Krysztofiak, Tiffany Mowry, Elizabeth Galuardi) trying to be part of the polar bear club: a group of hearty naturists who dive into the ocean in winter. In the enigmatic "Don't Be" by Ken Greller, two mismatched friends (Alex Scally and Richard Keller) struggle with a car that keeps getting smaller and a bag of other "issues." In LaRonika Thomas's piece of social realism, "J-ROTs," a group of African-American high school students (played with intensity by Mardee Bennett, Ayesis Clay, and Aaaron Trent) debate the controversial merits of dedicating their lives to military service.
Despite the diversity of genres, this anthology of plays indicates that realism and naturalism still remain the default button of American playwriting, even the most recent.

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