Lang Student Theatre Collective Brings One-Act Plays to the Stage
Wednesday, December 7th, 2011
On Wednesday, November 30, and Thursday, December 1, Eugene Lang College’s Student Theatre Collective held its annual One-Act Play Festival at The Tank, a volunteer-run visual and performing arts theatre on W. 46th Street. The subject matters at hand were both lighthearted and serious, ranging from the etiquette of pooping in the ladies room, to social disdain for the homeless.
While some plays like “Tiger Waits for His Samaritan,” — about a mentally ill homeless man ignored by passersby — and “Maybe I Should Just Cut My Dick Off: A Christmas Story,” — about a young man whose current relationship is destroyed by the persisting memory of his dead ex-girlfriend — tackled weighty issues with gloomy endings, others reflected the comedy of everyday life.
“The Standoff” was the first and lightest of the four plays performed. The story illuminated the private thoughts of three women in adjacent bathroom stalls trying to discreetly relieve themselves — a conundrum all women have secretly been in, but assumed men never suspected.
The distractions begin with some subtle coughs and timed sneezes. But they quickly escalate to more desperate measures like vinyl-scratching, shaking a Nalgene filled with ice, and setting off a ringtone, Salt N Pepa’s “Push It.” The only mystery of the play is how its writer, Ramon Rodriguez, was made privy to the secret ongoings of the ladies room.
The second play, “Man’s (Best) Friend,” a dark comedy written and directed by Trey Townsend, follows a gay couple whose relationship is rocked following an unfortunate string of pet deaths. The play opens with a heated argument after their cat dies, asphyxiating on a pack of flavored condoms.
The cycle of death continues when their neighbors try to console them in their grief, giving them an ill-fated hamster. This time around, it’s not condoms. But being accidentally smothered to death on the living room couch leads to the pet’s tragic end. This second untimely demise places an even greater strain on the couple’s relationship.
The plot strongly calls to mind the Donald Barthelme’s short story “The School,” which follows an elementary school class whose children are repeatedly devastated when their class pets die in rapid, absurdist succession.
Although the play is ambitious in its close look at relationship dynamics, its pace feels slightly too abrupt. Told through a series of short vignettes, each scene ends suddenly after a punch-line, and the audience is left working out the joke as the next scene begins.
Similarly, the play’s conclusion — a marriage proposal — seems to come out of the blue for the characters, who have argued for most of time we’ve been watching them. It feels like too tidy of an ending.
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