Theater review by Gail M. Burns and Larry Murray
Larry Murray: As theater-lovers who live year round in the Berkshires, Gail, winter can be like Lent is for Catholics and others. What we seem to give up from January to April are the live performances that we thrive on the rest of the year. Which is why, for the fifth year in a row, we were delighted to get a generous serving of on-stage belly laughs, drama, pathos and even a bit of bathos at the opening of the fifth annual 10×10 Upstreet New Play Festival. The ten mind-tickling moments came from ten new ten-minute plays, all slices of life that shed light on things like beginning a relationship, or ending one.
Gail M. Burns: To paraphrase Forrest Gump, the 10x10s are like a box of chocolates. Each one is a treat; some will be your favorites, and some will be mine. And they are brief enough it takes you at least 3-5 minutes to decide this one’s not for you, which means it’s almost over anyway. Once again Barrington Stage Co. in Pittsfield has assembled a versatile cast of six: three men – Jake Keefe, Andrew May and Matt Neely – and three women – Madison Micucci, Kelley Rae O’Donnell and Peggy Pharr Wilson. Neely and Wilson are popular local actors and 10×10 veterans, while the rest are newcomers, but they work as a seamless ensemble here, as they are mixed and matched in a variety of roles.
Larry: The ten playwrights (three women, seven men) covered an amazing variety of topics, while Julianne Boyd and John Miller-Stephany split the role as directors with five plays each. Boyd has been artistic director of the company since its inception, and while Miller-Stephany is new to the company, he has an enviable record of success with the Guthrie in Minneapolis and before that with the Acting Company in New York City.