LA Splash Magazine
February 8, 2011
On a quiet semi-residential corner in Burbank... Beyond an unassuming neon marquee, the SkyPilot Theatre Company opens their first production of 2011: REWIND: a series of original Late Night Short One-Acts.
Video Palace is a fading relic of what was once the center of America's media consumption: the neighborhood video store. Anyone who has worked at a video store (like yours truly) knows that any given day or night, boat-loads of the most curious people come through those front doors.
On the first night at Video Palace, a promising double date takes a toxic turn towards the political, dashing one unsuspecting couple's hopes of getting past second base. Night two at Video Palace, well, the title pretty much says it all: "Beautiful Princess Meagan Tries to Get Fired from the Video Palace." Next, a clerk must strategically answer the same question night after night, followed by a short play where a customer finding himself on trial for his poor taste in movies. Finally, we are transported to Manhattan Beach circa 1985 where a young video clerk named Quentin is explaining the genius of foreign films and embracing the concept of "aestheticization of violence."
REWIND - Friday Edition is a bit wobbly. The atmosphere and performances of this evening are clearly in the vein of a comedy club more so than comedic theatre. I was unable to detect any real chemistry in this company of players. The performances themselves were very presentation á là Saturday Night Live - where the performers have a captive and there is no real pressure to be good so long at the material is marginally humorous and the delivery lands. Both the performers and the audience seemed to be having a good time. I felt a bit left out. Granted, I'm a girl who only watches SNL occasionally, and then only for the musical guest performances.
Two plays in the Friday series are rescued by good writing. "Will My Daughter Like This Movie?" directed by Robert William Rausch and written by Adam Hahn, truly captures that aforementioned parade of characters that could roll through a Blockbuster any given night. Similarly, in homage to Mr. Tarantino and video clerks everywhere, "The Expert," written Brett Neveu and directed by Eric Curtis Johnson, really nails the eccentric personnel on the other side of counter. Both short plays employ just the right amounts of good acting and absurdity.
If you are looking for a goof, a place to blow off late night steam, Friday Night REWIND is a good time. If you are looking for good theatre, go on Saturday.
Netflix is the named villain behind most of these short plays that take place in and around Video Palace, a withering neighborhood video rental shop. Each of the five one-acts presented are teased by movie clips. Just like Friday, REWIND: Saturday Edition the audience whets their appetite on scenes from films like Dirty Dancing and White Nights. (Thirty points to anyone who can name the clip which featured the talking tumbleweed.)
"I Wouldn't Mind Seeing This Again" is a colorful collage of monologues that examines the reason why we love the movies that we love. This collaboration between writer Adam Hahn and director Greg Machlin exercise judicious measures of nostalgia and playfulness. The cast of four are immediately engaging.
The tone was all over the place for "Death & Popcorn." However, this play seemed to be designed as fare for the camp contingent in the audience. This piece depicts an actually morning in the life of a video clerk, uninterrupted. Humorous and strange stuff.
Julianne Homokay's short one act "Relics " introduces us to Bel ( Shelby Janes) on the eve of her becoming homeless. With her video store having gone under, she finds an unexpected friend and confidante in Cloris ( Mary Burkin), the homeless woman camped out behind her store. "Relics" is a severe shift in tone, deeply somber and serious in content. It is an abrupt but pleasing surprise in an evening of comedy. Tent-poled between "Death & Popcorn" and "Rapture & Lamaze," Homokey's play fits well into the showcase, adding a wonderful slice of variety that offers solid scene work by both actresses.
"Rapture & Lamaze" is another one-act whose title probably speaks for itself. However, the title cannot convey the delicious chaos that erupts from the volatile combination of one late Lamaze tape, one pissed off Lamaze partner ( Kim Jiang), one lazy boyfriend ( Trey Thompson), two pregnant women ( Lindsey Mixon & Jamie Punkett), one Christian Evangelist ( Jeremiah Munsey), one obstinate video clerk ( Jason Sims-Prewitt), and yes ladies and gentlemen, thee Rapture. Double threat Julianne Homokay directs the short play written by fellow writer/director Jeff Goode. A comedy piece this broad and physical could not have been executed well without a cast of singular focus. This cast of six was on fire! Ridiculous and so much fun. Well Done.
"Wandering Willows" closes the evening on a musical note. With the book and music by Jonathan Price and lyrics by Chana Wise, this final one-act speaks to all who are easily seduced and transported by sweeping movie musical. Billy ( Ben Ryan) wants nothing more than to get lost in the perfect world of melodies, but he simultaneously wants that world all to himself. Or does he? Allison Bibicoff directs and choreographs the piece with an even hand, and a steadfast eye on the acting. Again, great ensemble chemistry. Equal parts silly and sweet, "Wandering Willows" is the last of several great treats in this evening of one-acts.
REWIND - Saturday Edition is a solid night of theatre. This evening of late night entertainment scores in all genres: comedy, drama and musical theatre. If you are a die-hard who consumes great entertainment at all hours of the day and night, REWIND is a very good show.
REWIND: SkyPilot Theatre Company's first late night short one-act series, runs February 4, 2011 thru March 12, 2011 at:
The Little Victory
3326 West Victory Blvd.
Burbank, CA 91505
(1 block East of Hollywood Way)
For more info call 323-229-2753 or 800-838-3006
Running time 75 minutes.
For Tickets go to www.SKYPILOTTHEATRE.com