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Lionface's 'One Acts' a wonder PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sentinel-Tribune Staff   
Thursday, 07 November 2013 11:17
Drew (middle, performed by Nathan Smith) attempts to stop a confrontation between Andrea (left, performed by Abbey Casino) and Fred (right, performed by Zack Robb) in a Lionface Productions presentation of "Slaying Dragons and Stuff." (Photos: Enoch Wu/Sentinel-Tribune)
Wednesday was just another night for the local seat-of-their-pants, drama on a shoestring, itinerant  troupe Lionface Productions.
An unexpected schedule snafu had displaced the troupe from its venue, so the dress rehearsal for its annual production of one act plays was being held in a large classroom on the top floor of Moseley Hall on campus. With Thursday's show canceled because of the scheduling problem, opening night was pushed to Friday at the old church at 123 E. Court St. in downtown Bowling Green.
So when two actors stepped out from the wings, make that the hallway, to announce that an actor was not present for a three-person reimagining of Poe's "The Raven," it would be easy to assume that this was reality.
The  actors, Justin Betancourt and Amanda Larsen bickered and tussled, traded insults over how they would proceed in the absence of the third actor playing The Raven. Things got out of hand immediately even as the stage manager Molly Weinberg tried to keep a lid on the argument. Suffice to say the stage ended up littered with broken cell phones and playing cards. 
Of course, this was indeed a play. The kind of comic amateurishness spoofed is not in Lionface's repertoire. Making do and improvising are part of the troupe's DNA, as is putting on a good show. This year's "One Acts" continues that tradition. "One Acts" will be staged Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. Tickets are $5.
Maybe that opener about a theatrical disaster is what haunts the folks at Lionface. But it doesn't keep them from living on the edge.
All four plays tease with the audience's suspension of disbelief. There are plays within plays, and actors shifting from character to character, dropping their masks to reveal another character behind. These are a series of theatrical funhouse mirrors.
In "A Scene for Three Actors," written by Christina Hoekstra and directed by Amber Jarden,  Betancourt, Larsen and Weinberg have to shift from disgruntled thespians to the characters in the play. Betancourt is a hoot as the inept actor portraying a tormented Edgar Allen Poe.
Andrea (left, performed by Abbey Casino) and the dragon (right, performed by Angelica Cooley) in a Lionface Productions presentation of "Slaying Dragons and Stuff", a one act play by local Meghan Koester.
The slapstick tone carries over to "Slaying Dragons and Stuff," written by Meghan Octavia and directed by Griffin Coldiron. The play is a send up of Dungeons and Dragons role playing games. Zack Robb as Fred the half-orc  is the haughty newbie to game, questioning every decision by the group's dragon master played by Jeffery Guion. Abbey Casino and Nathan Smith are adventurers who are flirting in real life. Their nascent romance breaks through into the fantasy play in awkward and comic ways. They're in pursuit of a princess (Cierra Elston) imprisoned by a dragon played.
"A Foolish Bafflement," written by Beth Rohrs and directed by Michael Portteus, has servants from different Shakespeare plays - the Porter from MacBeth (Ashleigh Mays), Ariel from "The Tempest" (Allie Levine), The Fool from "Lear" (Elston) and Touchstone from  "As You Like It" (Sam Driscoll) - trading masters to comic effect.
The mischievous sprite Ariel just isn't up to the task of dealing with the anguish of Lear (Kat Moran).
Moran starts with a straight portrayal of the aged king, pushing the theatrics more and more from tragedy to comedy.
Rohrs does a good job of knitting actual lines from Shakespeare into her own faux Shakespeare to create a seamless farce.
While the final play "Based on a True Story" by Levine and directed by Joel Paine, has its comic moments, it veers toward the sincere emotion.
The play itself consists of seven scenes based on true stories collected by Laptop Girl (Lynette Cooley). Each starts with someone approaching her to tell a story, and then that story is acted out by the ensemble of Katy Schlegel, Jon Clark, Bridgid Randolph and Scott Stechschulte.
"Based" goes from comic tales of a ghosthunting expedition gone wrong to a toddler's fantasy of defeating an evil teddy bear, played to great effect by Stechschulte. Then there are tales of the awkwardness of growing up. In two Stechschulte and Clark switch off playing fathers and sons. The first involves the father's awkward handling of his son's emerging sexuality and in the second the son (Stechschulte) comes out as gay.
Clark is a dad again in the final scene as a young woman played by Schlegel comes to grips with the death of her mother and discovery of her birth father.
This provides a quiet, touching conclusion to a production that started more than two hours before with a touched display of theatrical disarray.
"One Acts" demonstrates  Lionface's range and skills. Earlier this fall a production of a one act by Hoekstra won state awards for Lionface. I'm sure one or more of these could be in the running as well.
Last Updated on Monday, 09 June 2014 15:36

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