WriteNOW Festival- Pivotal(arts)

by Lucy Allen

There’s something about new works that I’ve always loved.  New independent artists take risks that big budget productions don’t and the results, while not always polished, are exciting to be a part of.   Pivotal(arts) WriteNOW! Festival, playing now at the Bread and Circus, gives voice to these new works by presenting four new shows over the course of a week. I saw the first two plays last night, and while one was on unsure ground, both displayed some great up-and-coming talent.

The first show of the night, Dating Yourself, is a glimpse into the world of dating services. Alan, a waiter, can’t seem to catch a break in his search for love and so puts his trust in a gay dating service, only to find that their methods of matching are just as skewed as his own.

Although the show took a few minutes to find its groove (mind you, it was opening night when nerves run high – I always try to give some leeway on openings), once it did, there was a never- ending stream of laughs. It was hilarious, crude and sweet all at the same time.

It took my show partner a bit longer to get into it because as she put it: “it’s trying to be shocking for shock’s sake.” But for me, underneath all of the blatant crudeness (which personally, I’m always a fan of), is the classic story of one man’s quest for love.  It’s something that everyone can relate to on some level.  The ending, which I won’t give away, was pleasantly surprising, and it was refreshing not to see it go the cliched route that most plays like this do.

It helps that the cast as a whole brings the script to life wonderfully. Blair Kay and Brandon Sim do especially well playing all of the supporting characters, giving each a uniquely hilarious personality. Although there were a couple of stumbling points and awkward moments, Dating Yourself is a great start to the festival.

The second show, In the Clouds, is a collective creation written and performed by a group of people. It follows two parallel stories: one of a couple, Fiona (Jennifer Lippa) and Barry (Trevor Small), living together and struggling with their ever changing relationship; the other takes place in the novel that Fiona is writing about a murder mystery involving misfit fairy tale characters. Eventually, of course, the two worlds collide, and the appropriate revelations are revealed.

There are good moments in the show. All the scenes involving Fiona and Barry were sweet and funny. Jennifer Lippa and Trevor Small have a great energy and chemistry together on stage, and it’s hard not to get invested in their dilemma. Unfortunately, the show would shift to the other storyline, which didn’t seem to fit structurally. Neither my show partner nor myself could quite get into the other storyline. Anytime the fairy tale characters came on stage, I would immediately want to shift back to Fiona and Barry. I’m normally a fan of modernizing and adapting fairy tales, but in this case it just didn’t seem like the two should go together.

It isn’t that the show doesn’t have potential to integrate the storylines together. With some tweaking and restructuring, I could see In the Clouds becoming a more complete, unified piece rather than two separate pieces forced together. I’d be interested to see what else is done with it in the future at any rate.

There are two more shows in the WriteNOW! Festival, which I do hope to check out. Its an opportunity to see some new work by some promising talent, and I’d recommend it to anyone who likes to see something different every once in a while.

-The WriteNOW! Festival is playing at Bread and Circus (199 Augusta Ave) until Mar 20.
-Shows:  Dating Yourself and In the Clouds: Mar 15, 17, & 19
The Four Minute Mile and Crime Scene:  Mar 16, 18 & 20
-Showtimes are 7:30pm daily.
-Tickets are $15 or $25 for a two-day festival pass.
-Tickets can be purchased online or at the door.