A.R. Gurney Tops Novato Theater's One Act Festival

Clockwise from upper left: Karen Clancy, Bruce Coughran,
Carole Landes, Hope Carillo, Kate Savage,  Phillip Swanson,
Emily Surface, Ron Dailey, Rose Stuart, Malcolm Cohen 

Novato Theater Company opened its One Act Play Festival 2011 with three original plays followed by a play by Master Playwright, A.R. Gurney.  The festival opened with "Hickory Miles" by Paul Heller and directed by Bruce Coughran. This play explores the inner world of a woman by the name of Hickory Miles (Carole Landes) as she recalls highlights from her life with both her father and husband.  She tells her story to a Pawn Shop Owner beautifully performed in pantomime by Steve North.  Ms. Landes had fine facial expression as she tells her life story.   

The second play was a farce called "Identity Crisis" by Kitty Burns and directed by Zanne Dailey. In this play, a woman journalist named Andrea Estridge (Dawn Hamilton) has lost her luggage and enters a baggage claim office to speak to the claims officer played with excellent comic timing by Nathan Ross.  He sends for his assistant Cathy Healy played by Emily Surface in a sly performance. A mysterious bag shows up with the initials A.E. and the woman journalist who lost her bag thinks it must belong to Amelia Earhart.  Later a couple played by Steve North and Ruth Rosen come to look for their lost luggage and are told off by Jack Alma Deleon in a fine cameo performance.  

After a 15 minute intermission we see another farce, Car Wash by Louis Phillips and directed by Bruce Coughran.  In Car Wash, Salten Pfeiffer (Rose Stuart) has lost her expensive Mercedes in the car wash.  She tries to convince the car wash employees, Darlene (Karen Clancy) and Joe (Bruce Coughran) to look for her lost car and they all disappear in the car wash.  Another woman played by Carole Landes shows up to have her car washed but nobody is around. 

The grand finale of the evening was "The Love Course" by A.R. Gurney and brilliantly directed by Emily Surface.  In this play, the whole cast gave outstanding performances. Here A.R. Gurney explores a university literature course on love taught by Professor Carraway (Kate Savage) and Professor Burgess (Ron Dailey) with different views on life and love.  Their two students are delightfully played by Hope Carillo as Sally and Phillip Swanson as Mike.  This play was the highlight of the evening.  

The One Act Play Festival presented by the Novato Theater Company is being held at the Novato Theater Company Playhouse, 484 Ignacio Blvd., Novato.   Performances are held Thursday-Saturday, August 11-13 at 8 p.m. with a final Sunday matinee, August 14 at 3 p.m. For tickets, call 415-883-4498 or go online at www.novatotheatercompany.org.

Coming up next at the Novato Theater Company will be "How the Other Half Loves"  by Alan Ayckbourn, September 1-25, 2011.

Flora Lynn Isaacson