by Tracey Paleo, Gia On The Move

One show whose final performance you won’t want to miss this weekend is Three Shorts written by critically acclaimed playwright in residence at The Stella Adler Academy, Tim McNeil, a series of one acts that expose the farcical, absurd and sometimes perverse underbelly of life.

In two out of three Mr. McNeil takes the starring role.  As Evan Dougherty, in The Straight Bozo, he is a man with a secret traveling the morning commute from Long Island New York to Wall Street.  A sort of idiot savant, he expresses his loneliness through the most outlandish intellectual dialog that takes two of his fellow passengers  on a ride they didn’t quite expect.  As it turns out, an idiot he is not – far from it. But his personal truth gets him into trouble with the other passengers.  Curiously written McNeil downplays this character to perfection as the most unlikely but brilliant sage.  It’s a straight up, oddball New York subway story, and believable if you’ve actually ever ridden the Long Island Express.  Supporting cast Brad Kaz (Bob) and Nikki McCauley (Terry) align wonderfully in their long haul duel with each other as Ms. McCauley’s character comes to understand McNeil’s true identity. Jay Kim’s appearance as a subway cop is a light entry but never-the-less gets the job done.

Purplish is a two women play which offers a view of a young poet dying of stomach cancer, trying to understand what the afterlife might be like.  Mona’s writing is her life and in death there is the possibility that there will be absolutely nothing.  It’s a terrifying awareness that she takes out on her estranged lover Amanda in a late afternoon love/hate melodrama.  McNeil’s writing for women is somewhat uneven here leaving Maia Nikiphoroff (Mona) struggling a bit for the character, but both Ms. Nikiphoroff and her lover Meghan Leone Cox (Amanda) pull this play quite nicely together.  Cox’s work is very strong and there is a lovely resolution that happens between them.

It is the finale, of this show however, that will have you rolling in your seat!  Schism is a thoroughly wicked comedy about Urban (McNeil) who has set up a second Vatican in a Kansas farmhouse where, he and his devoted assistant Milla (Fanny Rosen) attempt to bring down a corrupt Rome.  Milla and Urban play out  a high camp, burlesque of religion, uproarious love and lusty temptation. Unrequited, over-the-top, sinfully delinquent attraction culminates with a showdown ending of astronomical proportions.  One of the best and most outlandish pieces of writing experienced in a short play, Schism, leaves the audience in twisted stitches of shock and awe laughter.

 
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