Lovers, Liars, and Lunatics
Lovers, Liars, and Lunatics, a title broad enough to encompass anything the six playwrights might care to write about--it is very clear that Daniels has succeeded. The audience is excited and engaged. People laugh easily and are ready to cry when the appropriate heartstrings are plucked. They forgive moments that are less engaging or barely funny because they know that their patience will be rewarded. Daniels' The Anatomy of an Argument, for instance, seems formulaic and perhaps just a bit too easy, but this audience has good reason to run with Daniels, and director Guy Sanville has an impeccable sense of timing that can rescue any comedy.
Most of the comedies in this year's group feature the quick wordplay and the sentimental turns that have shaped short plays in regional theater for a couple hundred years. They range from the broad sexual comedy of Kirsten Knisley's The Arrangement, where a young couple's hookup is challenged by the onset of genuine emotion, to the physical slapstick of Daniels' other contribution, The Guitar Lesson. Yes, indeed, it turns on the horrors parents can inflict on themselves and their children when they begin the process of learning music.
Perhaps my favorite play of the evening was David MacGregor's absurdist black comedy, Just Desserts. In this play, an office nonentity, played brilliantly by Michelle Mountain, decides to discover who is stealing food from the company refrigerator, and to exact her revenge. It is a situation most of us can recognize, but here things go to an extreme conclusion. Mountain does a lovely job turning her mousy nobody into a loveable monster.