By: Michael M. Humel
I was lucky enough to see the opening performance of Scenes from a Cell, a collection of short plays by Mick Axelrod. The same night, a production of Alice in Wonderland was also being performed presented by Endless Productions.
From the opening moments of Sam Craner’s performance of the White Rabbit, this production of Alice in Wonderland, directed by Timothy Burris, takes the audience on a nonsensical, laugh-riot ride. One surprise of the night and probably my favorite moment was when a fully bearded T.J. Larsen came out dressed in woman’s clothing and played the Duchess. I was laughing so hard I was crying. Because the purpose of this production was supposed to make the audience laugh and take them away from reality for a while, I thought Timothy Burris as director was able to set a tone for the cast that made it obvious that they were having as much fun as the audience was. Mary Foresta played a devilishly quiet Cheshire Cat. I enjoyed Brian Proffit’s proper yet odd portrayal of the Mad Hatter. The Queen of Hearts, played by Sarah Spraker, blanketed the performance with an aura of fear and doom with her loud scream of “Off with your head.”Another humorous and reminiscent moment was Mario Mendez performance of The King of Hearts. I couldn’t help but imagine Droopy Dog the cartoon when he would speak. His performance was funny and reminded me of when I was young. The performance of Alice played by Jules Schoof was innocent and fun. The set design by Rebecca Schoof was colorful and funny, with its large foot for when Alice grows and the bright blue ocean prop used for the sea.
The second performance I was able to see was Scenes from a Cell, a collection of short plays by writer/director Mick Axelrod. In the first play, Read, a tarot reader was asked to read for a would-be killer. I liked the interesting look at behavior when people are being threatened. Kyle Jones plays Greg the would-be killer convincingly and pushes the barriers when he invades the personal space of the tarot card reader and gets too close to her.
Jean Sulli plays Madame Yasmina, the woman asked to read the tarot cards. At the beginning of the play her character is very mechanical and serious. Once she realizes the kind of man he is she becomes afraid for her life. As the performance goes on she changes into this strong woman able to take care of and defend herself. I liked the psychological tug of war each of these characters dealt with during this play. I like what the play says about people when they are faced with a tough decision. At the same time it asks the question: “How do you stop from taking your actions to far?”
Till…Do You Part is the second short play in this collection. At the beginning of the play a man and woman wish to be married. As the play goes on the audience realizes they are deceased and are asking a reverend to help them to marry each other. Both of the deceased characters were Christians and didn’t want to have sex until they were married. I thought this play was funny especially when the two departed. Walter, played by Leonardo Dominguez and Alice, played by Abby Dandy, first show up at the door of Reverend Hargrove (played by Sulli) and try to convince her they are real. I enjoyed the question of sex before marriage and the struggle with morality this play confronted. I think it says something about how deeply important a persons’ beliefs should be.
The third play in this collection is called God Calling. This play is about a man who wants to play video games and is continually confronted with a person who changes religions every time a phone rings. I could relate strongly to the idea of this play because I have been in the same situation. I liked how this play dealt with ignorance and how people who believe something and talk about what they believe should be informed on the subject they are talking about. Kyle Jones plays Adrian, the religious person who comes to the door and takes on different personalities and religions. He was hysterical and stole the show. Leonardo Dominguez plays Andrew, the straight faced man who just wants to play his video games. Dominguez portrayal of Andrew was intelligent, well-thought-out and showed a model of how informed people should be so they are able to have socially relevant conversations. One of my favorite moments in the play was when they heard the voice of God and he told them how he felt about what they should do. This moment hinted at the idea we aren’t being judged as harshly as some people think.
Finally, the last play in this performance was called Conception. This play is about two sperm and an egg having a conversation about life and death. The subject matter covered abortion, rape and the genetic differences of parents that could and sometimes shouldn’t be passed onto children. The questions raised in this play are very important. Does a woman’s right to choose trump a persons’ right to grow up and live? Should a woman who is not ready to have a child but who had sex have an abortion rather than put the baby up for adoption for a couple or a single person who cannot have children? Should a woman have an abortion if the child has defects? Should a woman keep a baby who is conceived from a rape? I appreciated the way in which Axelrod presented these thoughts in the minds of the audience