Pinter and Howe at DirectorFest.
The Drama leagues DirectorFest.
Robert Massimi. Member Dramatists Guild.
The Drama League has been doing this for 36 years! DirectorFest gives a culmination of directors a chance to work with both new and established writers. In venues across Manhattan, DirectorFest runs over five weeks and this year will feature productions of John LaChiusa's "Hello Again" and Harold pinter's "The Lover"; revivals of "Appearances" by Tina Howe and Marcus Gardley's "The Sporting Life Of Icarus Jones"; "The Drowning Girls" by Beth Graham and "Pure", created by Belgium director Bakalov.
The Drama League propels creative visions into the performances full life on stage. The League tries to identify and nurture new directors, providing them with the nation's only full time artistic home. This Festival puts exceptional directors like the ones being presented this year, in a position to have their talents noticed and further promoted.
This year, I had the opportunity to see both Pinter and Howe's work. In Pinter's "The Lover", we see a typical Pinter play, edgy, ever changing and at times raw. Like Last years "The Betrayal"; "lover" gives us the same twists and turns that is Pinter method of operation. What the audience believes at the beginning of the play is nothing what actually happens in its ending, not even close. The brilliance of Pinter was at the forefront with great acting from both Maribel Martinez as Sarah and Greg Brostrom as her husband, Richard. With great British accents, NJ Agwuna directs the two through this quick one hour action packed play. This play is tight in every way, great directing, sets and sound design, I enjoyed this play even better than "Betrayal" on Broadway this fall, last. Agwuna's direction had a deft energy, (the two characters bantered about the stage in a smooth, easy flowing way).
Directing Pinter is never easy, Pinter is all about interpretation; what the audience sees, or thinks it sees, are often different. Pinter's plays also give way to the creative juices in all facets of play making, from set design; lighting; costumes, its fun to produce a Pinter play. You can see "The Caretaker" many times and have distinctly different productions. The same can be said for "The Collection" as well as an assortment of his other plays. In "The Lover", NJ Agwuna reals us in and lets us out giving us a little at a time until its suspenseful ending.
"In "Appearances", Lindsey Hope Pearlman too does a nice job directing. The comedic timing is done well, unfortunately the real good material and the essence of this show runs out after 20 minutes into this 40 minute play. What is fun to watch at first becomes hokey towards the end. The actors make the best of the material that they have, but it is not enough to sustain this comedy.
In a set from the 1970's we have a department store manager who is strict about keeping the rules and a woman who is desperate to find the right dress to wear to a company function. Short on time she desperately wants to get in and out of the store quickly. Unable to find neither the right dress, or a dress that fits her properly, she is eventually broken down the store manager and gets her assistance. With some catchy music and funny lines, the two become friendly and differences get worked out. What needs to get worked out even more is the last half of this show.
DirectorFest runs from January 10th till February 4th.