Diverse Quartet at 2011 RAW Winter Festival

The Co-Producers of the RAW (Ross Alternative Works) Winter Festival are Tinka Ross and John Clevenger. The first play to be presented was Lo Mein and Tequila by Angelina Llongueras-Altimis and directed by Michael Paul Pulizzano.  The setting is an apartment in Brooklyn, a summer evening in 2003.  In this play, two people, Eduardo played by Jere Visilli and Beatriz in a moving performance by Susan Stein contrasts their prejudices, their rootlessness, their limitations and their lack becoming finally able to listen to each other.  This play is dedicated to Griselda Tirado murdered in Huehuetia in August 2003.  
Beatriz comes from Spain to Mexico as a social activist writing a book on migrant worker's rights.  Griselda had been her best friend.  Eduardo who fathered Griselda's child brings Beatriz to live with him in Brooklyn.  Both of these people are facing their pain and emptiness and learn to open up to each other with respect and truth.  
The second play of the evening was a delightful comedy titled Work In Progress by John Levine and directed by Kim Bromley.  In this play, a lesbian couple delightfully played by Melissa Claire as May and Marianne Shine as June, debate the pros and cons of matrimony and then confront a mysterious stranger, Guy played by Johnny DeBernard who is the playwright who is puzzled as to how to end his play.  
After a 15-minute intermission, the third play, Wallace Strikes Out for Heaven by Stanton Klose is next.  The play opens with two angels dressed in white who are in heaven and Wallace entering to "Take Me Out to the Ball Game."  Wallace, a Dodger's fan, runs a red light on the way to the ballpark and finds himself in heaven.  The play is a bit of fluff but is expertly directed by Ray Morgan and performed with relish by Jeffrey Orth as Wallace, Robyn Wiley as Sister Gwendolyn and Glenda Vessey as Sister Roxanne.  
Hell in a Handbasket by Robert F. Bradford was the final play of the evening. This play directed by Alex Kuskulis is set in a small gymnasium which provides physical therapy for disabled men.  Monique Sims plays Amanda, the physical therapist.  Joel Roth plays Jake, an older man, who has come to terms with his condition. Jeffrey Blaze plays Rick, a newly-disabled ex-con biker with a suicidal bent and a head full of Nietzsche quotes on a  course of nihilism and Alma DeLeon steals the show with her performance of George, a paraplegic quadruped. This was a heated drama with an ambiguous ending.
Coming up next at RAW (Ross Alternative Works) will be Summer Festival, August 18-21, 2011. For information, call 415-456-9555 or go online at rossvalleyplayers.com

Flora Lynn Isaacson