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Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Rough and Ready Theater

Theater Review

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  The third annual Play in a Day hit the Tenth Street Theatre this past weekend. A joint project between DIY theater groups Insurgent Theatre and Alamo Basement, Play in a Day comes from the rather absurd notion of making an entire play in 24 hours complete with sets and costuming. The hope here is to blur the line between performance and process. To a certain extent the final show is merely a rehearsal for a more balanced show that will never be completed. Ideally, things feel rough and incomplete.

  This year’s Play in a Day was conceived as a musical. Five writers took turns hashing out a script that featured music written by three different musicians. It suffered from feeling just a bit more polished than last year. The audience filled out the main seats at the Tenth Street Theatre quite nicely. The stage was adorned with a banner clearly, though cryptically, spelling the word “OR” in big red letters. Alamo Basement co-founder Mike Q, Hanlon introduced the show, promptly auctioning off a complete script for the evening’s show. It ended up going for $70, which could be seen as a sign that Play in a Day is gaining popularity (last year’s script went for a mere $30).

  What followed was pretty bizarre, but it could scarcely be referred to as a musical. The musical format was largely ignored in favor of a comedy featuring students and faculty from “OrvilleRedenbacherHigh School” going on an expedition to VampireIsland. Hanlon himself played the school’s principal. Insurgent’s Tracy Doyle played the femme fatale scientist introduced in last year’s show. Other cast members included Cesar Gamino and the “freakishly tall” Cynthia Kmak as space aliens trying to blend in with the student body. A few moments of truly inspired comedy surfaced. Some of the moments were exchanges between a ditzy cheerleader played by Jessica Rolfsmeyer and a goth druggie played by Liz Shipe. At one point the cheerleader asks the goth to advise her on “how to be a better lesbian.” The character had been a complete stereotype leading in to that moment. It comes clear out of nowhere.

  With growing interest in the series, Alamo Basement will likely return next summer with a fourth play in a day. Insurgent Theatre returns to the Alchemist Theatre this July with a pair of plays.