Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Review: Summer Shorts New Play Series Series A

Gia Crovatin and Elizabeth Masucci. Photo: Carol Rosegg
Good Luck (in Farsi) by Neil LaBute
About a Woman Named Sarah by Lucas Hnath
Breaking the Spell by Tina Howe

Series A Has the Best Up Front
By Lauren Yarger
Neil LaBute directs his funny look at competition with Good Luck (in Farsi), which pits two actresses on an audition against each other. Paige (Elizabeth Masucci) and Kate (Gia Crovatin) recognize each other from previous auditions when they show up to try out for a role as a CIA agent. They pretend to wish each other the best and to bond over things like people hating them because they are beautiful, but deep down, they are like two panthers circling each other for the kill.

Paige has had some success—a short-lived TV series, but Kate hasn’t, and worse, she is between agents. Paige promises to put her fellow "sister" actress in touch with her agent, but somehow manages never to come up with the number. Kate, who is part Persian, offers to help Paige with pronunciation of some of the audition script's Farsi dialogue, but that help might be as valuable as the agent’s still missing phone number.

“Good luck. You too” is the constant banter between the two, but neither sentiment is meant.

It’s a fun look at competition with sharp dialogue.

Christians might also like to know:
-- Language

The second short play up is About a Woman Named Sarah by Lucas Hnath. It depicts four meetings that took place when Sen. John McCain chose Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin for his running mate in the 2008 presidential election.

Meeting 1: Sarah (Marisa Viola) and McCain (Mark Elliot Wilson) meet. Broken sentences and thoughts are interrupted by some sort of clicking noise (Director Eric Hoff’s choice or written into the script, we’re not sure. What it means, we’re not sure either). Palin obviously is not McCain’s first choice.

Meeting 2: Sarah meets with McCain’s wife, Cindy (Stephanie Cannon), who also doesn’t like Sarah. She urges her not to accept the invitation should it come.

Meeting 3: McCain and his wife meet. Neither like Sarah, but she’s better than that “douche bag” Mitt Romney….

Meeting 4: Sarah and her husband, Todd (Ben Vigus) meet. Todd also is opposed to Sarah’s accepting the nomination, but she is determined.

There doesn’t seem to be much point to this play except to give the playwright lots of opportunities to call Palin stupid and to call Romney a douche bag. If it were a satire, we could laugh along, but it lacks purpose and humor and I kept thinking a funnier meeting would be between Hnath and Palin to see whether he’d be willing to call her stupid to her face.

The series closer is a whimsical tale from Tina Howe, Breaking the Spell. Here, A king (Michael Countryman) and a Poor Wretched Fool, known as PWF (Evan Shinners), watch over the princess Christobel (Crystal Finn), who fell into a deep sleep 100 years ago when an evil spell was cast. Thousands of kisses from princes (and other unpleasant things) have failed to wake her and time is running out for the kingdom. A musician, Antonio Abracci (Jesse Schenin), tries to work his magic with a saxophone, but will Christobel ever wake up? And will PWF ever get to be with his love?

This play, directed by Birgitta Victorson, has some funny moments, but mostly is puzzling. Characters speak in gibberish at times. In the end the most common audience question on the way out the door was, “What was that about?”

Summer Shorts 2013 is the seventh annual festival of new American short plays from established and emerging writers at 59E59 Theaters. More information: or .

No comments:
Create A Buzz About Your Book
Custom Search
Our reviews are professional reviews written without a religious bias. At the end of them, you can find a listing of language, content or theological issues that Christians might want to know about when deciding which shows to see.

** Mature indicates that the show has posted an advisory because of content. Usually this means I would recommend no one under the age of 16 attend.

Theater Critic Lauren Yarger

Theater Critic Lauren Yarger

My Bio

Lauren Yarger has written, directed and produced numerous shows and special events for both secular and Christian audiences. She co-wrote a Christian musical version of “A Christmas Carol” which played to sold-out audiences of over 3,000 in Vermont and was awarded the 2000 Vermont Bessie (theater and film awards) for “People’s Choice for Theatre.” She also has written two other dinner theaters, sketches for church services and devotions for Christian artists.

Yarger trained for three years in the Broadway League’s Producer Development Program, completed the Commercial Theater Institute's Producing Three-Day Training and produced a one-woman musical about Mary Magdalene that toured nationally and closed with an off-Broadway run.

She was a Fellow at the National Critics Institute at the O'Neill Theater Center in Waterford, CT. She writes reviews of Broadway and off-Broadway theater (the only ones you can find in the US with an added Christian perspective) at

She is editor of The Connecticut Arts Connection (, an award-winning website featuring theater and arts news for the state. She is a contributing editor for and is a theater reviewer for the Manchester Journal-Inquirer. She previously served as Connecticut theater editor for and as Connecticut and New York reviewer for American Theater Web.

Yarger is a book reviewer for Publishers Weekly and freelances for other sites. She is a member of the National Book Critics Circle.

She is a freelance writer and playwright and member of The Drama Desk, The Outer Critics Circle, The American Theater Critics Association and The League of Professional Theatre Women. She served as a judge for the SDX Awards presented by the Society of Professional Journalists. She also is a member of the Connecticut Critics Circle and the CT Press Club.

A former newspaper editor and graduate of the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism, Yarger also worked in arts management for the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts, the Hartford Symphony Orchestra and served for nine years as the Executive Director of Masterwork Productions, Inc. She lives with her husband in West Granby, CT. They have two adult children.


All material is copyright 2008- 2017 by Lauren Yarger. Reviews and articles may not be reprinted without permission. Contact


Key to Content Notes:

God's name taken in vain -- means God or Jesus is used in dialogue without speaking directly to or about them.

Language -- means some curse words are used. "Minor" usually means the words are not too strong or that it only occurs once or twice throughout the show.

Strong Language -- means some of the more heavy duty curse words are used.

Nudity -- means a man or woman's backside, a man's lower front or a woman's front are revealed.

Scantily clad -- means actors' private areas are technically covered, but I can see a lot of them.

Sexual Language -- means the dialogue contains sexually explicit language but there's no action.

Sexual Activity -- means a man and woman are performing sexual acts.

Adultery -- Means a married man or woman is involved sexually with someone besides their spouse. If this is depicted with sexual acts on stage, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Sex Outside of Marriage -- means a man and woman are involved sexually without being married. If this is depicted sexually on stage, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Homosexuality -- means this is in the show, but not physically depicted.

Homosexual activity -- means two persons of the same sex are embracing/kissing. If they do more than that, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Cross Dresser -- Means someone is dressing as the opposite sex. If they do more than that on stage the listing would include the corresponding "sexual activity" and/or "homosexual activity" as well.

Cross Gender -- A man is playing a female part or a woman is playing a man's part.

Suggestive Dancing -- means dancing contains sexually suggestive moves.

Derogatory (category added Fall 2012) Language or circumstances where women are referred to or treated in a negative and demeaning manner.

Other content matters such as torture, suicide or rape will be noted, with details revealed only as necessary in the review itself.

The term "throughout" added to any of the above means it happens many times throughout the show.

Reviewing Policy

I receive free seats to Broadway and Off-Broadway shows made available to all voting members of the Outer Critics Circle and The Drama Desk, the two professional critics organizations with journalists covering NY theater. Journalistically, I provide an unbiased review and am under no obligation to make positive statements. Sometimes shows do not make tickets available to reviewers. If these are shows my readers want to know about (I review all Broadway shows and pertinent Off-Broadway shows), I will purchase a ticket. If a personal friend is involved in a production, I'll let you know, but it won't influence a review. If I feel there is a conflict, I won't review their portion of the production.

All Posts on this Blog