A REVIEW OF THE FRINGE OF MARIN
THE FRINGE OF MARIN
Reviewed by Jeffrey R Smith of the San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle
The Fringe of Marin, a festival of one-acts plays, started by Doctor Annette Lust precisely twenty-five years ago, has, like a good Bordeaux, qualitatively evolved: it: is now a substantial theater event for Marin County.
This season's offerings include several superbly crafted plays well worth the time and the mere pittance that Dominican University charges for attending.
Roberta Palumbo clearly researched, wrote and expertly directed her very sophisticated offering: LAST ACT: VIRGINIA WOOLF'S FINAL YEAR.
Monique Bricca plays the title role: capturing the complex essence of this neurotic and depressed, self-absorbed writer who, as the German bombs rip up the country side around her, thinks little of Bloomsbury or the heroics of Churchill and the British people.
Instead she debates as to which will last longer, her "trough of despair," the war or her writer's block.
In unpatriotic fashion, Virginia wishes that the Germans would put ashore in order to ease the tension caused by their impending invasion.
Just in time to provide comic relief, a dramatic comedy by Roger Marquis, wonderfully directed by Nancy Long, leaps into the line-up.
MEMORIES is a chance encounter of two sweethearts who had the luxury of experiencing unbridled sex in high school and were fortunate enough to have never taken their hormonally charged love to the next step.
While their subsequent marriages to less suitable lovers never remained intact, their vivid memories of burning adolescent concupiscence lasted forty years.
The fortuitous encounter provides them with an opportunity to pick up where they left off: either bickering or copulating or both: the audience gets to make that call.
SHAVIUS/DIABOLUS: G. BERNARD SHAW IN HELL is indisputably the most philosophical piece in the retinue.
Writer Jack Foley sets the hook just as the Klieg lights come up: what did George Bernard Shaw do the deserve eternity in the stygian regions?
The pithy, ironic dialogue is worthy of Shaw himself: "Illusion is the only way we can bear reality," "beware the man whose god is in the sky," and "life is nothing but knowledge of self" are a few of the eschatological morsels and aphorisms imbedded in this cerebral script.
Both actors: Steven M. Vickers and Vernon Medearis, render meaning and the right amount of profundity to this well measured script.
David Kester, a Marin Man for All Seasons, Ross Valley Renaissance Man, Stand-Up Cynic and former professional baseball player, performs superbly in what seems to be a one man show with a cast of three.
Kester is a riot in CONTROLLED SUBSTANCES: he plays a man who, thanks to a high fiber diet and serious workouts on the elliptical, staved off his midlife crisis until the eleven hour.
He might have put it off indefinitely except that a young lady in a local watering hole irreverently intimated that he was "stuck in neutral."
Writer Mark Lewis puts a "done that, been there" feel into this play about what you should do "when your chronological clock starts ticking a little too loudly."
Kester's character: Guy, rails against all the usual targets: love, marriage, women, misspent youth and the brevity of life.
His rant is much like the restaurant critic who said, "the food was terrible and the portions were so small."
Life would not to be taken serious, except for the fact that it is short.
Annette Lust knows how to stack the deck; in this festival she keeps an ace up her sleeve: Kimberly Peterson an amazing finish to what is arguably one of the best Fringes ever.
Kimberly beautifully sings her original compositions, they serve as a lyrical narrative to her exuberant celebration of life and love in Brooklyn New York.
This young lady is clearly destined for higher venues and recording contracts.
You might have missed Grace Slick at the Fillmore or Jimmy Hendrix at Monterey: don't miss Kimberly Peterson at the Fringe of Marin.
For show times, details and directions, call 415-673-3131.