Last night I attended the inaugural New Works New Britain Theatre Festival at Trinity-on-Main, and I enjoyed it tremendously. Nine one act plays in just under three hours, with a healthy intermission between plays 5 and 6, the event produced by New Britainite Mark Ohanesian and Carolyn Paine, brought to the stage a wide variety of situations and characters, from the silly to the deadly serious, with energy and skill.
Not all were equally successful, some due to confused direction, a less-than-satisfying script, or a pedestrian performance or two. Most, however, worked quite well, especially "Sisters" by Alex Dueben, directed by the aforementioned Mr. Ohanesian with Nick Roesler and Megan Weaver, and, "Driving Force," a little post-coital look at relationships by Jenny Lecce and directed by David McCamish. The former was the play that clicked best on all fronts: script/acting/direction. The latter, while it seemed to wander a bit at times, worked nonetheless because the actors, especially Andre Warmsley as Ben, were so natural in their performances.
The crowd most enjoyed "Stool" by Jacques Lamarre with its broadly comic bumpkins-in-the-big-city theme, but as the woman behind me predicted to her companion the outcome just after the play's halfway mark, its payoff was hardly surprising. The midwesterner in me, admittedly, thought the premise just a wee bit out-dated, but the actors were having fun...and, as I said before, the audience quite enjoyed it.
The most serious of the pieces was "Close Your Eyes" by Erin Striff which dramatized an infanticide by a British tourist in the '90s. While it contained marvelous moments of acting by the mother, Iris McQuillan-Grace, the play was hurt by staging that either the actors didn't execute well or was too confused to be comprehended (by me, at least).
These are minor quibbles, however. Overall, the evening was an undeniable success. Congratulations to all involved. I look forward to New Works New Britain II in 2010!