Mystery, Murder and Mischief in Fall 2011 Fringe of Marin Program One

Dr. Annette Lust

Thanks to the inspiration and leadership of Dr. Annette Lust, the Fringe of Marin Festival is now in its 28th season.  Program One opened Friday, November 4 with seven new plays. 

The opening play was "Who Is Who," an exhilarating mystery comedy written and directed by Bill Chessman. This play is about wealthy British people pretending to be someone else.  Outstanding performances are given by Jim Colgan as a perfect butler, and C. Conrad Cady as Inspector Nigel Cork from Scotland Yard.  The theme of this play is that things are seldom what they seem.  This play was followed by "Louisville," by Joe Amata and directed by Crystal Nezgoda and stars C. Conrad Cady as Ralph and Rick Roitinger as Louis.   The direction builds in suspense in this dramatic encounter between these two men.  In this play a burglar is set up to be a killer and is discovered by a "supposed" home-owner. There is a surprise ending.  Michael Belitsos, a retired advertising executive turned magician presented "Why We Travel: A Magical Mystery Tour," next.  His definition of travel is a lot like magic and includes both discovery and revelation.  We want to find ourselves and lose ourselves.  Mr. Belitsos contrasts the attitude of travelers with the attitude of tourists.  His highlight was his trip to the Amazon jungle teaming with exotic wildlife and splendor and being a magician, he makes magic before our very eyes.  

The first half of the program before intermission concluded with Joseph O'Loughlin's "The Psychic," directed by Keshuv Prasad.  In this play, the psychic played by Rick Roitinger is a t.v. personality who seeks counseling from a priest played by Jeffrey Orth.  The play starts off timely and builds into an unexpected climax of tragedy, horror and controversy. 

The second half of the program opened with "Stay with Me," by Justine Kaltenbach with music by Sanna Salmenkalio and directed by Tracy Ward.  This is a drama about a "possible" gay young man, Ernst (sensitively played by Tyler Costin), who seeks suicide counseling from Lucious, understandingly played by Lonnie Haley.  Both actors give fine performances but need more projection.  

The next play was an amazing solo performance, "It Don't Have to Hurt," written and directed by Susan Little.  Diane Rodrigues plays Iris with excellent comic timing.  The grand finale of the evening was "Can One Make Love Wrapped Up in the French Flag?"  James Colgan directs this sexy French farce written by Benoit Vitse, a Romanian living in Paris which is translated into English.  This charming play involves an amorous couple delightfully played by C. Conrad Cady and Crystal Nezgoda who wonder if they will be punished by French law for wrapping themselves in the "drapeau tricolore."  

A memorable 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 One continues Saturday, November 12 and 19 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, November 13 at 2 p.m.

All performances take place at Meadowlands Assembly Hall, Dominican University, 50 Acacia Avenue (at Grand Ave.), San Rafael, CA. For reservations and information, call 415-673-3131.

Flora Lynn Isaacson