4Play provides variety and ten-minute plays for fringe
KC Fringe Festival
"4Play" showing in the Kansas City Fringe Festival consists of four short plays ranging from 10 to 15 minutes by four local playwrights who are a part of the Kansas City Playwright League. All of the playwrights use some taboo sexual act (either taboo to one character or to a larger society) as a focal point to the drama at hand.
The first play in the show by José Faus, the dramatic "hand" is whether an average Joe whose hand is now deemed holy due to the miraculous image of the Virgin Mary on his thumb should be allowed to use the miraculous hand in masturbatory acts. Jesus, played by Philip blue owl Hooser, must decide if he believes his hand should be saved for only "holy" acts and not for the inappropriate worldly actions such as picking one's nose or pleasing oneself sexually. The drama, however, is underplayed in opportunity. The character's choices remain comical instead of an opportunity to affect the audience in a real way. The play could quickly take a more dramatic, powerful turn, but the playwright chooses a lighter tone. Jesús' choice to remain as a protected person of the Church or to be a "regular man" should be a heightened moment, but unfortunately this decision comes off as light. Nevertheless, acting by Meredith Wolfe and Phil Hooser remains strong.
Jack Phillip's play, "Breeding Stock" seems to be more of sketch than an actual play. The concept of the play, using a "perfect" sperm donor and then monopolizing on that is indeed clever, especially among the current political controversies with women's' reproductive rights. The plot was scattered and had one-two-many homosexual jokes. The potential for the play to be successful exists in the compelling issues of reproduction along with the ideas of what makes a man a perfect sperm donor. Vicki Vodrey's directing aids the piece with great physical comedy elements.
Ken Buch, who has a PhD in Aerospace Engineering, combines romance, art, and science all together to create a date-night no one can forget in his play, "The Perfect 89". At first, the play seems to be yet another perspective of the Fifty Shades of Grey era of S&M sexuality. The character of Sam, however, is aroused by numbers—the golden ratios of a woman's body. Sam, played by Sean Hogge, searches to find a woman who matches his mathematically-charged yearnings. Buch's play had the audience ranging from uncomfortable to uncontrollable laughter.
Michelle T. Johnson knows when to make the turns from comedy to drama with great pacing in her play, "As the Guiding Light Turns" which employs soap operas as a somewhat guiding force in her character Graces' life. Johnson elicits a moral question among many in her work. Does watching and enjoying so-called "inappropriate" material make us corrupt? As playwright David Mamet says, "Drama is all about lies," and Ms. Johnson knows how to use the lies characters tell one another to create drama and laughs. Johnson, who calls herself a "diversity diva" created an opportunity for black actors of Kansas City to shine including Sherri Roulette-Mosley who had perfect comic timing with her lines.
"4Play" entertains and makes audiences uncomfortable in good and bad ways. The show presents four different voices of Kansas City writers who remain dedicated to the act of writing plays that know no bounds of comedy.
Check out www.kcfringe.org for more performance times.