One Acts At St.Marks Downstairs.
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“She Waits” is the newest production by 99c Theater Co. The Company itself was founded by actor and producer, Lindsay Nolin, and co- produced by Shawna Wigney. The Companies mission is to collaborate with up and coming artists of all backgrounds. The creators want the productions to be artist driven and to be at the nexus of the creative process.
“She Waits” is a collection of three act plays: “Fixin”; “Gameplay” and “Water Strider/Jesus Bug”. all three plays were written by Alex Shannon. A graduate of NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, Ms. Shannon’s “Water Strider/Jesus Bug” was runner-up in the Judith Barlow Prize in a national playwriting competition. Recently Alex has made her directorial debut in the short film, “Open” which is currently streaming online.
In the first play, “Fixin”, Ruthy (Alex Shannon) and Willa (Jonina Thorsteinsdottir) are sisters from a poor southern town. Whereas Willa is more selfish than her sister, she still wants the best for her… to one day leave this hopeless town and move on with her life. Willa is married only because it was her way out of her mother’s house. Ruth on the other hand is always doing what is right, even if it means sacrificing her youth doting on her mother and foster children. The two women with their deft southern accents are able to let the audience see the despair and dysfunction of the environment in which they grew up in. We see the two different ways that each sister deals with the scars of their youth.
“Gameplay” is a completely different play, but it deals with two very similar characters that we saw in “Fixin”. In “Gameplay”, two single young women with two different ideas about life, boy’s and commitment. As Florence, Thorsteinsdottir is rather aloof about relationships with boy’s. She is non committal about relationships and is even experimenting with girls. Charlie, (Shannon) is more into a serious relationship and commitment to the people she dates. Even though she is coming off a one night stand with a good friend, she is hoping for a relationship with him. The two women are polar opposites in just about every way, but like “Fixin”, they have a loyalty to each other and a bond that cannot be easily broken.
In what was the best play of the evening, “Water Strider” takes place in a laundromat; New York City, 1965. Two woman; Rhea (Elizabeth Saunders) and Indie, (Shannon) deal with a death in Rhea’s family, the brutality of her husband and the times they live in. While Indie is younger, she has more opportunity, more than Rhea could ever hope for. Indie is thinking of attending Stanford to study science. Although she is not certain that she will do this, the banter of the two shows that even though she is much younger, she is more grounded in her life, less dependent than Rhea. This play is more subtle than the prior two, yet it goes deeper, it has a more psychological effect on the audience. Setting this play in a 60’s style laundromat was brilliant, it gave us a passive place where people had nothing but time to talk and watch their cloths go round and round. It gave these two characters time to open up to the audience and let us know what they were feeling.
Not all the plays worked at times, some of the political messages in the plays came out of nowhere and were not germaine in the plays action and general plot, even seemed forced into its plot without any rhyme or reason. Shannon for the most part stayed true to the writings body of work, only delving off it a few times. The three plays moved quickly and established themselves in rapid pace keeping the audience interest throughout the hour and fifteen minutes.