Ready for a night of unicorns and clowns? Sci-Fi and meth? Hipsters and hit men? Only have 80 minutes to spare? Then strap yourself in and get ready for Dreams and Discord: The Source Festival’s latest presentation of six 10-minute plays. One hour. One stage. Let’s go:
- Hans and Elsie by Alyssa Wilden
Hans and Elsie (Jonathan Helwig and Laura Artesi) go from first date to marriage proposal in ten minutes (and you thought six plays in an hour was fast!). Unfortunately, Elsie has a knack for only seeing the worst possible outcome of every situation. The story oscillates between moments in their relationship and strange red light sequences that left me scratching my head. Director Gus Heagerty creates a dreamlike atmosphere by flooding the stage in red lights for these alternate dream sequences. Clever, but I wasn’t sure what these red light sequences were meant to suggest? Elsie’s dreams? Panic attacks? Watch out Elsie, if you always expect the worst then the best might just pass you by!
- Riding Lessons by Brett Hursey
What happens when two misfits connect? They see each other’s emotional baggage! On the surface, Clark (Matthew Sparacino) has it all. He’s successful and handsome and he even hosts his own podcast. No one sees the clown he carries around on his back, until he meets Edie (Kendal Helbig).
Not only does Edie see the clown, but she teaches Clark to see her in new light. Director Lex Davis wisely balances comedy with sensitivity and Mary Myers does a great job as the mute clown flitting through the theater, interacting with patrons and providing a great visual counterpoint to the cozy love story unfolding on the park bench.
- Everlast by Francesca Pazniokas
Tess Higgins and Jonathan Helwig nail their roles as young hipsters Yuki and Silias. Although the set was minimal – two high top chairs and two beers – I could totally imagine them in a bar chatting up their friends. Yuki (Higgins) came across as especially disingenuous as she leaks out the details of their recent Mt. Everest climb. Director Sarah Scafidi beautifully orchestrates the fast moving dialogue as we realize the two are essentially trash talking a dead girl to alleviate their own guilt. Not cool, guys, not cool.
- The Red Light by David L. Williams
Now this red light I understand! Eva and Charly live in a Philip K. Dick-style police state. When the red light clicks on, the cameras are watching and you had better behave. Eva and Charly’s illegal and illicit relationship reaches a climax as they meet in the bookstore where Eva works. Director Gus Heagerty creates great tension as the women’s increasingly heated argument is continually interrupted by the click of the camera’s red lights. Careful, you are being watched. The stakes are high and the audience can feel it. Laura Artesi returns as the emotionally conflicted Charly and Stephanie Garcia plays her pining lover. Casually placed books turn the stage into a believable book store.
- Choosing You by Rachel Lynett
The entire team from Riding Lessons returns with another winner. Like a condensed version of Broadway’s If/Then without the music, Choosing You follows Aurora (Mary Myers in another strong performance – this time without a clown nose) as she ping-pongs back and forth between moments in two very different possible lives. Director Lex Davis once again proves able to craft moments of emotional connection as Aurora shares touching moments with divorce lawyer boyfriend Tyler (Matthew Sparacino) and social worker wife Cass (Kendal Helblig).
- The Meth in Method by Tommy Partl
We all know that the drug industry is a business, but what if it were a legitimate business, with meth cartels operating out of Madison Avenue skyscrapers and consultants giving glossy marketing pitches in boardrooms? This is the dystopia hilariously imagined in Tommy Partl’s The Meth in Method. Director Sarah Scafidi returns with another fast-moving piece full of likeable louts.
The great ensemble cast closes out the night as we see the inner thoughts of employees who view selling meth as just another 9 to 5 job (With Tess Higgins, Jonathan Helwig, Joe Killiany, Kelsey Murphy, Jonathan Frye, and Paige O’Malley). Jonathan Helwig garners the most laughs with his performance as Rufus, the hit man with a seat in the boardroom.
Dreams and Discord is a fun night out showcasing six fun and diverse stories. And after the curtain closes you’ll still have time to grab a bite with your friends while you talk about your favorites.
Running Time: 80 minutes, including a 10-minute intermission.
Dreams and Discord: Six 10-Minute Plays played on June 16, 2016, at The Source Festival, performing at Source – 1835 14th Street, NW, in Washington, DC. For tickets, call (866) 811-4111, or purchase them online. Performances continue on June 19th at 1 PM and 8 PM, June 23rd at 8 PM, and July 2nd at 4 PM.