Saturday, July 7, 2018

Block Talk- Episode 70: Jackie Cox

I got to sit down and chat with one of my favorite people on the planet, Jackie Cox! We discuss everything from SYTYCD to I Dream of Jackie to the tea on some of her dear sisters.

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Review: The Best Short Play of Your Psast, Present, and Future

By Ed Malin

Nylon Fusion is celebrating many years of its intriguing This Round’s On Us festivals of short plays.  Their current The Best Of programs A and B at the Medicine Show Theatre bring together 14 quality short plays which have been selected from earlier festivals.  High-profile Nylon Fusion regulars John Patrick Shanley and Don Nigro are represented, as are many other masters of this genre whose work is usually in evidence on New York stages.  The audience gets to vote on which of these plays Nylon Fusion should develop into longer works (which, believe me, they do quite well).  The producers often provide free drinks between sets.  You will see poignant, punchy works about all aspects of human nature.  I have enjoyed a lot of Nylon Fusion’s work in the past, and urge you to check them out and help contribute to their cutting-edge development process.
Time Fixers (written by Adam Sullivan, directed by Lori Kee) is a delightful depiction of a live adventure program broadcast from the golden age of radio. In this wholesome-seeming story, the Time Fixers journey back in time to stop supercriminals from changing history. The elder Time Fixer (Josh Marcantel) and his young assistant (Skyler Gallen) jump back to 1865 to see about President Lincoln’s assassin, John Wilkes Booth (Ben Gougeon).  This famous actor and racist has been persuaded by a vile criminal (also portrayed by Ben Gougeon) that the country would still be an OK place if Lincoln survived the war, and so Booth vows to devote more time to Shakespeare and to cancel his murderous plans. The radio stage manager (Helen Herbert) helps out as the Time Fixers butt heads over their assignment.  Must someone actually still kill Lincoln?  Beth Griffin does incredible work onstage as the “foley” sound effects artist: shutting doors, generating machine noise and doing a mean horse impression.
Under The Overpass (written by Steven Young, directed by Janet Bentley) is the story of an averted car accident.  Joey (Nik Duggan), a Caucasian driver who almost hits Leonard, a homeless African-American man (Sean Leigh Phillips). At first, the two are more or less relieved that no one has come to harm, but then questions of privilege and race emerge.  This is a clever piece about an unavoidable intersection of human paths which the system tries to keep apart.
Chain Link (written by Deb Hiett, directed by Lori Kee) shows us the beautiful use of the age-old child’s contraption: a telephone made of two cans and a string.  This device circumvents a man-made border, and allows Jonas (Skyler Gallun), a local boy and Ayeesha (Nikita Tewani/Divya Sethi), a resident of the area’s refugee camp, to remain in contact.  The hijab-wearing Ayesha doesn’t know she’s beautiful, and she thinks the best thing Jonas can do for her is to lend her some reading material to relieve the tedium of camp life. Little does she know that “Twilight” is not a classic. This is an understated, evocative play which has only become more relevant since its initial production.
5 Sandwiches (written by Michael Puzzo, directed by Janet Bentley) brings us a prize-winning view of the inside and outside of Charles Lindbergh’s airplane as he perseveres in the first Transatlantic flight. As he flies, Lindbergh (Reid Prebenda) is somewhat lonely and full of self-doubt.  He does not notice the three dead spirits (Ed Jewett, Neil Tyrone Pritchard and Kevin Cristaldi/Ivan Goris) who sit on the wings of his plane.  The three spirits grab the extra sandwiches which the frustrated Lindbergh throws out the window.  Showing us that the vagueness of life continues after death, the spirits reveal that they don’t remember their past lives.  However, they do know pop culture, and launch into a heartfelt, anachronistic homage to the 1990 film “Ghost”, with stunning Righteous Brothers vocals from Neil Tyrone Pritchard.  They note that for all they know, this film’s star, Patrick Swayze, may have been one of them.  They discuss whether Lindbergh’s technological innovations outweigh his Nazi sympathies.  The play succeeds in bringing humor to the most morose and heavy metaphysical issues.
photo by Al Foote III
Interval, Impulse (written by Peter Hsieh, directed by Ivette Dumeng) brings us into the near future, where humans have developed the technology to plug their minds directly into an interface with a computer. Mary Monahan is seem to have the jittery side effects that accompany this presumably necessary and beneficial technological advance. Amanda (Molly Collier) is then engaged in conversation by Davey (Ben Gougeon), an escapee from the outcast Texas Sector 9, who can tell that she has been plugging in. Amanda reminds Davey of a lost ex-girlfriend.  Is Amanda really OK? Does she occasionally see a slow progression of colors, or is she now unable to think of anything but numbers?  Pythagoras may have considered numbers to be the perfect form of expression, but what are flesh and blood people supposed to do when technology turns toxic? I see this cautionary tale as applicable to cell phones and anything else we simply must have. We are probably lying to ourselves if we think there is no danger.
Final Request (written by Tariq Hamani, directed by Lori Kee) pulls no punches. We dive right into the emotional state of Jack (Omar Bustamante), a death row inmate about to enter the execution chamber. His guard (Helen Herbert) listens with compassion as Jack wonders about the fate of innocent people such as himself. The guard, who has seen it all, has her own reasons which leave her inclined to believe him. Creating doubt so skillfully does tend to undermine the entire system. I'm glad that this very expressive, human moment was part of the program.
Under The Pomegranate Trees (written by Don Nigro, directed by Ivette Dumeng) takes place on a languid day in the South around the 1960s. Two girlfriends talk about their love lives during high school, their female powers, and their formative influences such as Marilyn Monroe. The blonde Patty (Merissa Czyz) is a bit aloof but sounds very certain of her ability to charm any man. She even borrowed the man her best brunette friend Sharon (Lily DePaula) considered her true love. She is further emboldened to give a taste of her romantic powers to her friend, right under the titular pomegranate tree. I think you'll agree, Mr. Shanley has a way with words and female characters.  This piece goes straight to the heart but without the sentimentality that women apparently employ when men are present. My favorite line is the very direct Sharon after judging her classmates who are all on drugs: “I’m a very dark girl. I tan.  You burn.”
I Knew It! (written by Scott Sickles, directed by Janet Bentley) gives an an inkling of the adjustments a young woman must make when she marries an aging, narcissistic rock star. Jodilyn (Kate Garfield), the fifth wife of a rock legend, is shocked to have found her new husband in bed with another man.  Specifically the other man and her man were becoming very friendly in bed next to her while she slept. Francesca (Thea McCartan), who is only the second wife of her veteran performer-cum-sex symbol, has seen an awful lot.  In her proper tone of voice, and brandishing a snifter, she tells Jodilyn what she might expect from a life with a man who needs lots of attention.  Perhaps there’s a reason Francesca’s own husband has stayed married to her so long.  Would Jodilyn like to cash in her pre-nup?  Does she realize she is in some way a footnote to a more famous life?  The drama in this one is most enjoyable even when, like in the soaps, we are watching people suffer.
Stranger In A Strange Land (written by Karen Macklin, directed by Ivette Dumeng) focuses on Lynn (Taylor Graves), a hard-working woman who moved from New York to San Francisco and now finds the men impossible to date.  We see Lynn meet Shiva (Sean Leigh Phillips), a spiritual dude who prefers not to buy or sell anything and who loves body cleanses. She goes on a date with Brian (JJ Condon), a gentleman with many female roommates, who founded the handsy website and who avers he is looking for a serious relationship. Lynn finds herself at the beach on a rare, warm day with Paul (Brian Vestal), who is sorry she feels uncomfortable about it being a nude beach, nevertheless wants to enjoy his day off and arranges her car ride home. Finally, at the San Francisco MoMA, Lynn is approached by the gentle, sincere Brendan (Ryan Molly).  A confirmed skeptic of West Coast smoke and mirrors, she vents a bit to Brendan about her difficulties with people who don’t say what they mean. Brendan finds her very real and refreshing, and suddenly they both have someone they can talk to.  You will probably appreciate the great range of Taylor Graves.
Surly Bonds Of Earth (written by Janet Bentley, directed by Lori Kee) takes place in early 1986 at the launching of the Space Shuttle Challenger. Mike (Sam Mercer), a student, is having a fast-food breakfast treat with his NASA researcher father, Carl (Mike Roche).  Carl is surprised that the shuttle will be launched this morning, since the temperature is colder than normal and there had been recommendations to postpone the launch. On the other side of the stage, as they prepare to film the launch, Marge (Laura Pruden) speaks with her granddaughter, Mary (Phoebe Brooks) about the crew of this shuttle, including the teacher, Christa McAuliffe.  McAuliffe is a real woman, “with thighs”, not a highly-trained astronaut. Since several chicken eggs will be aboard the space shuttle, Kentucky Fried Chicken has paid for many television ads about the launch. Carl and Mike are surprised to hear that the shuttle will be launching today, while Mary and Marge are very focused on filming the ascent of the shuttle. Unfortunately, this was a tragic day, one that the two groups of spectators handle very differently. Who was to blame for the disaster?  Did her fans value Christa McAuliffe when she was alive?
The Encounter (written by Michael Panes, directed by Janet Bentley) is a glimpse of a scientist and his wife trying to communicate on a special night.  Sandra (Maiken Wiese) is proudly setting dinner on the table when her husband Jerry (Alex Ferrill) arrives.  Due to an exciting development at work, he has forgotten their first anniversary.  Sandra, a compliant housewife, the arc of whose Catholic upbringing does to bend toward divorce, has a hard time believing this is her life. Jerry explains that he heard a loud transmission of noise from space which argues for extraterrestrial life. Jerry promises he was planning to buy Sandra a beautiful rug for their anniversary, but was so excited he forgot. As an example of their different  functions, he remembers  the thread count while she remembers the price. Unfortunately, the present Jerry recalled in such detail was something Sandra’s mother wanted.  Still in hot water, Jerry sits down to eat the dinner his wife has lovingly prepared.  He plays her the recording from space. She does not appreciate it the way he does. 
Youth Hostel (written by Alysha Silver, directed by Lori Kee) tells the story of the mid-twenties Jake (Daniel Florio) and the teenage Silas (Skyler Gallun), who meet in a youth hostel somewhere on the fringes of society. They talk about the things they've had to do to survive, and they form a bond.  They talk about occasional episodes of living in a fixed place, and of making tomato sauce with real tomatoes; half the flavor’s in the feeling.  Jake tells how a rich lady once hired him to be her chauffeur, but then engaged in some secret role play using the names Miss Julie and Jean.  The ironic reference to the classic play is lost on both dudes.  Silas, who looks young but says he’s 20, wants to use his looks to make a living. He misses his family, who adopted him. Jake, who ran away from his family, scorns such attachment.  Jake and Silas look ready to become their own family, even in a dirty place (where it rains at night, when you can’t see it) lacking stability.  The emotion this play lays bare is beautiful to behold.  We are seeing the power of two people who want to rise up from rock bottom together.
Superman Never Saved No Black People (written by Ted Nash, directed by Ivette Dumeng) takes place at a New Year's Eve party at the end of the 1960s.  Jamal (Sean Phillips), African-American, a trumpeter, sits on the patio where he is joined by the host, Dick, who is Caucasian and a trombonist (Scott McLean). The two have many things in common, although Jamal is clearly impressed that at this historical moment he is speaking with someone so in tune with black culture and music.  But their affinity becomes strained as Dick talks of his rebellious youth and the time he spent a night in jail; Jamal reminds Dick that he has received five months of jail time for a smaller offense. Dick digs up platitudes about how slavery ended 100 years ago and how cats like Benny Goodman, grew up in the ghetto and so their life struggle can be heard in their music. Jamal just shakes his head and knows that he will become even more of a radical in the 1970s, probably with less help from liberals. This piece really shows how people can persuade themselves that there are such things as racial equality, solidarity and common goals. Whether we're talking about the progressive 1960s or right now, I have great respect for this play.
French Waitress (written by John Patrick Shanley, directed by Lori Kee and Janet Bentley) brings us into the middle of an impromptu lunch date between the laid-back Pamela (Robyn Cohen) and her pushy, British lawyer husband Ricky (Julian Elfer). Their waitress is Blanche (Ivette Dumeng), a French transplant who does everything in a leisurely fashion which goes well with the stated theme of the restaurant ("Organique"). Although Ricky does take notice of Blanche’s derriere, he grows frustrated when she brings him food he didn’t order and purposely takes her time. This level of frustration makes it impossible for Ricky and Pamela to connect.  Ricky dodges by explaining that he is not fully English; he is a quarter Basque, and,  no, the Basque people in Spain are separatists, not terrorists. Pamela further notes that for Ricky, intimacy is a way to be separate, not a way to connect. As Ricky finally tries the incredibly satisfying food (no matter if he ordered it), Blanche’s English amps up so that she, too, can tell Ricky what his problem is.  Ricky’s grandfather and his father walked slowly, but Ricky runs. Ricky is not behaving organically. How can he get back in synch with Pamela? This play’s dream-like imagery leads to a sweet and refreshing place. At one point or another, I found myself identifying with all of the characters. Under Lori Kee and Janet Bentley’s direction, Ivette Dumeng makes a big impression while saying comparatively little. She and Robyn Cohen and Julian Elfer go through a sensuous verbal dance which caught me quite by surprise. Such is the magic of John Patrick Shanley and Nylon Fusion.
These impressive programs of plays represent just a fraction of the work Nylon Fusion has produced in recent years. In The Best Of, directors Janet Bentley, Ivette Dumeng, and Lori Kee juggle an energetic, talented ensemble in fourteen fabulous pieces.  You can see the quality of this work, even in this setting with minimal sets and tech. Some will hopefully be developed into full-length plays, with rich costumes and scenery.  Notable full-length plays by Don Nigro and others have also been produced by Nylon Fusion in recent years, and several new works, including Nigro’s Tales With Teeth (Planet Connections Theatre Festivity, July 2018) are still to come this year.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Block Talk: Episode 69- Honey Davenport

photo by Preston Burford

I'm so excited to welcome the incredible Honey Davenport to the podcast! She shares all in this episode from summer plans to some tea on her drag family!

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And consider becoming a patron of the podcast today at

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Review: One Woman’s Quest to Overcome

By Ed Malin

For fifteen years and counting, The Tank has been one of the most catholic of performance spaces. Just about any kind of live performance can be found there and, even better, receives their support.
I finally visited The Tank's new space on West 36th Street, which, luckily for the artists of the world, has two stages. Playing to a packed house in the middle of a three-day run was Molly Brenner—who performs much at UCB—with her boldly personal one-woman show Molly Brenner Isn't Coming.  The show is directed by Madalyn Baldanzi.
Molly is 28 years old. She informs us she has never had an orgasm, not even the accidental ones some women get from a horse or a bannister. She was worried she might have one before the show opened and wreck everything, but she is still qualified to tell this enlightening story.
Through a series of monologues as herself and some highly-recognizable other characters, she uses comedy to talk about her body and a condition that is often not discussed without shaming.
photo by Tucker Mitchell
In brief, the lights come up on Santa Claus, who chuckles “Ho ho ho! Merry Vaginismus!”
Vaginismus is a clinical-sounding name for a fear of penetration. Molly suggests she could make herself sound sexier by telling a lover “my problem is I've got tight vagina”
We meet Sex Barbie, the doll with the right genital organs, who, if she didn’t exist, children would find it necessary to invent her.
We hear the story of a young woman who goes to high school, hears what her fellow students are up to, and thinks that masturbation has just been invented. Later, with her gynecologist, she is prescribed various exercises to help her body relax from her condition.  These dilation exercises take approximately 20 minutes, which is exactly the length of an episode of the TV show “Portlandia”.   Still later in life, she calculates that if she were ever to have an orgasm, it would take as long as two episodes of “Portlandia”.
There is a lot of universal empathy in this play.  So many things in life could happen if we didn’t get distracted wondering if they were about to happen.  Thus is “meta” the enemy of pleasure.
And here's one that may make you realize how able-bodied you are: Molly reminds us that some women have never even seen parts of their anatomy, and so are just shocked that men like to expose their own body parts. Definitely something that would disappear if more thought were involved.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Review: She Has Big Dreams

By Ed Malin

Project Y’S Women in Theater festival at IRT continues with Cindy, written by Amina Henry and directed by Michole Biancosino. This modern update of Cinderella has some surprise twists which I found very empowering for children and inspirational for me (a grown-up parent of a girl somewhere below princess age).
Cindy (Star Kirkland) is a thirteen year-old girl whose mother has died.  Fortunately, she gets good advice from her friend Rudy the rat (voice and puppetry by Zach Fifer). Her father, James (Joachim Boyle) tries to look out for her best interests, but he is not strong enough to resist his new wife, Cindy’s Stepmother (Rachel E. Evans), whose ego proceeds her. A very caring cow named Bell (voice and puppetry by Caleb Antony Green) lingers in the background, ruminating on Cindy’s future.
photo by ClintonBPhotography
Suddenly, the teenage Prince Rupert (Timiki Salinas) is ready to wed and throws a series of balls to find himself a marriageable girl who wants to be a princess.  The Stepmother’s daughters, Sarah (Veronica Cooper) and Suzy (Emily Ma) prepare to be sassy for the Prince, and make sure that Cindy will be helping them prepare for the ball rather than competing against them.  Much classical music related to Cinderella appears in this piece; Sarah and Suzy’s leitmotif is “Run the World (Girls)” by BeyoncĂ©, sometimes thought of as a female power song.  Meanwhile, Cindy dreams of being a pilot, something she knows she would enjoy more than being a groupie to royalty.
Now, the magic begins.  Honest Rudy the rat, loathed by the Stepmother and others who prefer image to integrity, helps Cindy get to the ball.  So does Bell the cow, who has the spirit of Cindy’s late mother. They provide the glass slippers (or superfly hightops) and carriage (or shopping cart) that takes Cindy—or should I say incognito “Princess Ella”—into society and brings her home at midnight.   Prince Rupert is a tall, jewel and cape-wearing party professional.  His gold and sparkly shoes and ripped jeans mark him as cool, though Cindy is not impressed.  Dancers thrill to the sounds of bhangra and congas, while Prince Rupert finds Cindy so refreshing, he does a split.  Cindy, with a thirteen year-old’s strength of will, tells him she wants to fly, and barely gets home on time.  One glass slipper remains in the prince’s clutches.
When the prince comes to the Stepmother’s house, she happily trots out her daughters and does everything to deceive the prince into believing that they are Princess Ella.   Sarah and Suzy each have a toe chopped off, but they can’t satisfy Prince Rupert that they wore the slipper at the ball.  Finally, the prince finds out that “Ella” is Cindy.  Her friends and family all want the best for her.  But will she marry the prince or find a way to take flight on her own.
Playwright Amina Henry has written a play that appeals to young people but frees itself from the fairytale form.  Amid fanciful moments, we see a Stepmother who does terrible things to her own children and a stepchild who chooses her own destiny.  Director Michole Biancosino makes sure that the humans and animals onstage never have a dull moment. Annie Ulrich’s costumes are flashy, contemporary and exciting, and the animal puppets are haunting and beautiful to behold. Hallie Zieselman’s set includes lots of signs and clues about the play for young viewers to discover.  Sound designer Amit Prakash did a great job with fancy interlude music and exciting dance tracks for the ball. Christina Watanabe’s lighting shows us Cindy’s loneliness and difficulties as well as the love she receives from her friends and spirit animals.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Block Talk: Episode 68- RuPaul's Drag Race Season 10 RuCap Episode 12

Cissy Walken and I break down the latest episode of RuPaul's Drag Race season 10 where the final four become...the final four.

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And take a peek at our Patreon at!

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Review: Slices of Intense Feeling

By Ed Malin

At the Brick Theater, The Festival of Lies continues from June 5 through July 5.
I saw Sweet Little Lies, which, as its title implies, is a thought-provoking program of short plays by talented regular artists at the theater.
Up first is Ruth: An Apology, written and performed by Bob Laine, directed by Maryanne Olson.  This is a moving solo piece about a man’s relationship with his mother—who has some of the supportive characteristics of the Biblical Ruth—as well as a woman named Ruth whom he dates during high school.  The young man liked boys more than girls, which, over time, turned out to be not just a phase but his identity.  Ruth was a year older, and wanted to be with him, and took on his interests, but this wasn’t the recipe for a healthy relationship.  From “Bartholemew and the Oobleck” to Billy Joel to the Atari game Pitfall and things you can do with a joystick, Bob Laine takes you down memory lane.
The second piece is The Three by Erin Bregman, directed by Maryanne Olson, with music by John Glover.  Ariana (Silvia Dionicio) sits at the center of a triangle of clicking metronomes.  Three observers (Jessica Marza, Clara Francesca and Roger Nasser) echo and critique in unison every word Ariana says. As the sound builds to a fever pitch, Ariana yells that it doesn’t matter, to which the replies is yes it does. Eventually, the three other voices cut out and Ariana can collect herself. For me, this is a piece about the oppressive nature of time.
The third piece is I Do Not See You by Richard Lovejoy, directed by Paige Blansfield. The Target (Morgan Zipf-Meister) tells us about how, as she ages, she believes that people actively try not to see her, except when they are looking for someone to blame. Perhaps it is true that babies get the most attention and it’s all downhill from there. In any case, she claims that a museum guard damaged an artwork and blamed her, which is why she went and broke something else in the museum.  If you’re going to get blamed, you might as well have done something, her logic goes. The other characters (Linus Gelber, C.L. Weatherstone and Daryl Lathon) loudly assail her for other minor things, like accidental littering. Finally, she is framed and carried off and beaten by two of the others, while the third tries to get some attention for himself.  He is ignored, and has to face the beaten woman in the end. Wouldn’t it be better for people to treat each other as equals?
The fourth piece is I [heart] Facts, written and performed by Alexis Sottile. The host of our presentation works as a fact checker for various publications. This important job is revealed to be a funny mixture of invention and harassment. We wouldn’t want the things we read to be inaccurate, would we? A few years ago, monologist Mike Daisey garnered some attention for his show about oppressive conditions in Chinese factories; at the same time, there was controversy about how much of the story was interview-based and/or fact-checked. Alexis’s adventures give some hope in a world where elected officials stray from the facts.
photo by The Brick
The fifth piece is Foxing by Greg Romero, directed by Maryanne Olson.
Beatrice  (Silvia Dionicio) is a bit of a personal trainer, complete with a whistle and furry animal ears.  Aaron (Linus Gelber) and Charlie (Bob Laine), two men not dressed for the gym, are put through a variety of aerobic exercises to dance music. Thus warmed up, they then sit and have a conversation, with the help of note cards which Beatrice hands out.  They apparently know each other, and raised a son who died.  It is so hard for them to talk to each other and find any kind of resolution that they try the exercise again until they can brave it all and go unscripted. Don’t knock drama therapy; it works!
The sixth piece is Level III by Erin Bregman, directed by Paige Blansfield
Anna (Morgan Zipf-Meister) and Lea (Anna Ty Bergman) are talking about their views of mirrors. Using stylized language, they explore some fears of the sun bouncing off a mirror and setting the house on fire. What is the difference between reflected and refracted? What do you call a lot of cracked pieces of glass? Versailles? Together, they are able to find their way to some very empowering resolutions.
The seventh piece is Hunkerpuss: The New Adventures, with words and sound by Chris Chappell, directed by Jesse Edward Rosbrow. Late at night, Polly (Rocio Mendez) is discovered watching those cartoons starring Hunkerpuss (Timothy McCown Reynolds), the cat who can never seem to stop chasing the lovely otter, Olivia Otterford (Clara Francesca). These cartoons combine several cute and awkward old cartoon characters such as Snagglepuss from Hanna-Barbera. Polly’s girlfriend Clare (Lex Friedman) joins her and offers a mixture of empathy for what is keeping Polly up and confusion about the appeal of an arguably sexist cartoon. As the two talk on the sofa, their roommate Brandon (V. Orion Delwaterman) appears from behind the sofa to offer his chock-full-of-semiotics perspective. On the other side of the stage, the adorable, lisping Hunkerpuss is seen reminiscing about the making of the classic cartoon. Eventually, not unlike some kids commercial, Hunkerpuss creates an energy portal to Polly, Clare and Brandon’s apartment. When the young fans (these appear to be the children of today, who are having this discussion 10 or 20 years from now) interrogate Hunkerpuss, he tells a fantastic story about his life as a cat, a very rich cat who could have invested in a progressive new Artificial Intelligence project but did not.  When Hunkerpuss died, he found himself alive again inside of the virtual world of the cartoon—which is controlled by the A.I.—continually forced to chase an otter. He moans that he doesn’t have a choice about such base desires. As technology permeates our world, are the animalistic traits of humanity refined away, or are they used against us?  It's a super-dramatic, finely-crafted and hilarious tale.
This show was delightful and ambitious.  Short plays, like cartoons (especially the one which mixes the two together) are magical sparkplugs which can launch a debate about human nature. Kudos to the versatile ensemble which brought to life so many interesting characters, and to the directors, some of whom worked on two or three plays of vastly different styles. Morgan Zipf-Meister’s lighting provides the intimacy that these works require.