For some people, Spring is the time where they fnially shed their winter wardrobe and take a day in the park.
For F*IT Club, it's their time to put on eccentric theatre that will make your brain feel funny. Now in its 8th year, the F*IT Club Spring Fling is currently in full force, showcasing an evening of short one-acts carefully curated on a single topic. This year's theme: Chemistry. Playwrights are given the theme, and then allowed the liberty to take it to logical or illogical extremes. The results this year held a few surprises, some standouts, and never failed to be fascinating.
Erica Saleh's play Contemplation invites it's characters and its audience to take a moment to consider their own death. It's characters, with the help of an app, acknowledge that life is finite and that all things must pass away to nothing. With the aid of an able cast (composed of Mara Kassin and Richard Prioleau), Saleh and director Rachel Dart were able to put together a light-hearted and straightforwardly philosophical perspective on the inevitable. The play dealt with the morbid, without slipping in to morbidity itself. A welcome feat.
Photo: Sean Fader
Henry, by Mario Correa, saw a former couple (Ceci Fernandez and Eric T Miller) reuniting unexpectedly on a street corner. A simple, honest, piece; it was a humorous, but real, look at the awkward moment when two people, who were once as close as anything, realize how far apart they've come. The piece toyed with a cosmic melancholy, allowing the audience to feel deeply for both parties, whilst also being able to laugh at the relatability of the situation.
Snackable Content, presented an insight in to the dynamic of two co-workers at a BuzzFeed-style internet content creation website. Written by Daniel McCabe, this one-act featured a strong back and forth of humorous jabs, as well as musings on the terminal stages of life, and of working relationships. The stars, Brett Epstein and Rosanny Zayas, really sell their characters, and their conversation feels bright and real.
In Imperfect and Important, Jahna Ferron-Smith took a dialectical approach to race relations in theatre. A black playwright from a middle-class background (Dana Scurlock) is arguing with her literary agent (Liz Leimkuhler) over the tone and subjects of her writing. She is being pushed to write in a more urban tone, with explicit social commentary weaved in to her narratives. She struggles to see why she should, making the point that her upbringing was far from urban, and she doesn't want to feel like she's pandering to a perception of black people that she doesn't represent. More importantly, she, and the play, ask the important question: why do people only understand black narratives in the context of black oppression?
Photo: Sean Fader
Cost/Benefit by Jon Kern presented a view of the workplace that some would call bizarre, others would call next level, and some would call creepy. A corporate spokesperson (Paula Pizzi) espouses the benefits of love in the workplace, assisted by her son (Cesar J. Rosado). She does this with two potential adopters of her methods (Emma Kikue and Monica Gonzalez). The whole thing ends in a game of hangman conducted by Lori Vega. Whilst well-intentioned, this play was the most confusing of the evening and struggled to leave a consistent message. It's multiple set changes also made its levels of context unclear, and gave the impression the play had ended prematurely. A noble effort all the same.
Possibly the most off-the-wall play of the evening was The Verjeena by Mara Nelson-Greenberg. In it, a mother (Dawn Evans) tries to explain the female vagina to her teenage son (Alton Alburo). He has immense difficulty grasping the fact that he could be wrong about anything, even when drawing the vagina as a chemistry set. As the play unfurls his claims at knowledge become more and more twisted and surreal. When challenged on his incorrect beliefs he (literally) dehumanizes his critics, and devolves into petty screaming. Behavior apparently modeled after his father. With its absurdist style, the play humorously makes a point about the willful ignorance of a patriarchal society, and the dangers of complicity with it.
Photo: Sean Fader
Finally, Detention by Amy Staats sees the time old story of boy meets… teacher. In detention, an educator (Allyson Morgan) attempts to push away the advances of her former lover (and current high school student) played by Adam Langdon. They are quickly joined by her husband (Federico Rodriguez), another student (Emma Orme), and eventually a police officer (Emma Kikue). The scene is a gradual comedic devolution, where maturity is up for grabs and all morals are relative. Whilst the play doesn't seem to offer a concrete moral judgement on any of its characters (it feels conspicuous in its absence, particularly in the #metoo era), it does deliver on the laughs, and ends the evening on a decided high note.
Overall, another strong year for F*IT club, showcasing plays that one legitimately feels would not exist anywhere but here. More than that though, it should once again be stressed how few evenings of one-act plays are assembled with any sense of cohesion. Spring Fling categorically feels like it is put together with care, nuance, and with the aim to produce a night of plays that flow gracefully from one to the other, rather than zig-zagging across a wild spectrum of content, and quality, as most similar festivals do. Everything here is consistently enjoyable, comparable in its content, and creative in its presentation. Spring Fling: Chemistry, is sure to be a catalyst for your enjoyment.
Thomas Burns Scully is a PopDust contributor, and also an award-winning actor, playwright, and musician. In his spare time he writes and designs escape rooms. You can follow him on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
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