A High Five for Program Two at Fringe of Marin Sherlock Holmes: The Final Adventure at Pacifica Spindrift Players

Claudia Rosa

Thanks to the inspiration and leadership of Dr. Annette Lust, we have a Fringe of Marin Festival which is now in its 27th season.

Dr. Lust opened Program Two on Saturday, April 16 with a tribute to Bob Weiss, who recently passed away.  She dedicated this festival to his memory.  For the past ten years, Bob Weiss has been Associate Director of the Festival and tonight's program included an opera libretto by Weiss entitled Daniel.  This season's festival also included, in addition to one act plays and solo performances with family, social, satirical, biblical and psychological themes, a pantomime performed by "Teacher of the Year at Dominican University," Professor Henry Schreibman. 

The opening play was "Convention of Spies," a comedy written and directed Bill Chessman. This was a fast paced farce about an imagined meeting between Walt Disney (John Vincent Burke), Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky (C. Conrad Cady) and Marie Antoinette (Patricia Inabnet) at International Spy Convention.  Jim Colgan played Brad Donaldson who got into the wrong convention.  Lots of comic business ensued. 

The second play was a solo performance by Charselle entitled "Juice: Scenes from a Life."  Charselle drew upon her own life experiences for her material. She has extremely good stage presence and diction, even with an Oklahoma accent. She moves well onstage and is a great story teller.

The third presentation was a powerful drama, "Bindings" by Gaetana Caldwell-Smith.  In this play, we have a meeting between a half-sister and a half-brother after the death of their father. Claudia Rosa plays Ginny who comes to call on Richard (sensitively portrayed by Tyler Hewitt).  Richard had been the one to look after their ill father and Ginny comes to get back a copy of her book.  Claudia Rosa's ability to listen and react to Richard's predicament was right on target. 

The first half of the program concluded with "Daniel," a rap version of the biblical story written by Bob Weiss and performed by Suzanne Birrell in a tour-de-force performance.  She moves gracefully, has a great sense of rhythm and does an amazing transformation of characters before our very eyes. Birrell was always dynamic and encouraged audience participation.
The second half of the program opened with my favorite play, "Stanislavski" written by Kevin Brookes and directed by Buzz Halsing with Emily Surface as Assistant Director.  In this delightful play, an acting instructor, Conrad (Johnny DeBernard) inveigles his friend Damon (Ron Dailey), a food critic, to take over his acting class for one evening. The group of acting students played by Javier Alarcon, Patcharee Boyd, Bryana Tunder, Tom Dembski and Victoria Williams were all wonderful as hilarity ensued. 

Next up was an amazing solo performance titled "The Girl on BART" written by Linda Ayres-Frederick and Claudia V. Rosa and beautifully directed by Linda Ayres-Frederick.  In this solo performance, a girl studies the face of  a woman she encounters and this triggers some emotional memories in her own life. Claudia V. Rosa is a superb actress in a very rich performance. 
The final play of the evening was "Patio Dreams" a comedy written by Don Sampson and directed by Carol Eggers.  In this play, Janice (Claudia Rosa in a 3rd performance) and Tom (Rick Roitinger) play a married couple on vacation in the islands who play imaginary games with one another to liven up their relationship. This play was both professionally acted and directed. 
A remarkable outcome of the Fringe of Marin is to discover fresh voices and to bring in the community to participate either as an artist or spectator.  Program Two continues Friday, April 29 and May 6 at 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, April 30 at 2 p.m and Sunday, May 8 at 2 p.m. Program One plays Saturday, April 30 and May 7 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, May 1 at 2 p.m.
All performances are held at Meadowlands Assembly Hall, Dominican University, 50 Acacia (at Grand Avenue), San Rafael, CA.  For reservations and more information, call 415-673-3131.

Flora Lynn Isaacson
This adaptation by Steven Dietz of the work of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in 1899 is a marvelous look at the last case handled by the great Sherlock Holmes (or is it?).  The story starts with a newspaper headline stating the great Sherlock Holmes, on his latest case, has died.  We are then taken back in time with our narrator/storyteller, Doctor John Watson, in a likable and believable performance by Dennis Parks, which is also provides comic relief.  We can then see just how and why this case was even taken by Holmes.  Louis Schilling handles the role of Holmes with great style.  It turns out the King of Bohemia (Storm Russell) is supposed to get married but there is a photo of the great opera singer Irene Adler (the lovely and talented Pamela Clochetti) together that may ruin his wedding plans and he is being blackmailed over the photo. Holmes is to get the photo back before the wedding in order to save the King's marriage and position.  Holmes finds out Ms. Adler has already wed one James Larabee (John Szabo) who is pretending to be someone else and all of this is a scam designed by his arch enemy Professor Moriarty (Brian Johnson) who has a master plan of his own to destroy the great Sherlock Holmes.  

The story takes us to many places as Holmes himself falls in love with the enchanting and clever Ms. Adler and along the way Moriarty commits many crimes.  This is a show filled with strange twists and turns and is carried out to perfection by this fine cast of players including Mae Linh Fatum as Madge, Rob Hedges as Sid Prince and Collin Wenzell as a policeman. 

Director Craig Cummins utilizes his stage area very well on an unusual set by Henry Sellenthin . In this space, there is a London street, Holmes' house, a church, a factory, a train and even Reichenbach Falls in Switzerland.  The play ends with a surprise which is ambiguous.   

The production is two hours of quality theatre.  Live theatre is alive and well at the Pacifica Spindrift Players!  The only problem with this play is you have only one more weekend to see it on Friday, April 15 at 8 p.m., Saturday, April 16 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, April 17 at 2 p.m. For tickets, call the box office at 650-359-8002 or go online at www.pacficaspindriftplayers.org.  The Spindrift Players are located at 1050 Crespi Drive in Pacifica.  

Coming up next at Pacifica Spindrift Players is Come Back to the 5 and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean, June 3-June 26, 2011.