Approaching opening night of Fresh Ink, I had no idea what to expect. I’d heard of it, but I’d never been. I knew only that it was to be four one-act plays, written by four local writers, handed to four directors, and performed by four actors apiece. I was also informed (Get it? InFOURmed! Shut up.) that there would be four elements in common between the plays (a word, a sound, an object, and a character), and they would have a Shakespearean theme in celebration of the Bard’s 450th birthday (if he was indeed who people say he was, blah blah blah).
The play’s the thing
What became apparent immediately was that this whole event is as much about definition one of “play” (to engage in an activity for enjoyment) as it is about theatre. It’s about fun, having a light heart, laughing at the word anus, and engaging in a little scavenger hunt of references, quotes, and commonalities.
Resolution – by Tara Grover Smith, Directed by Cal Reese
What begins with a strange man typing his strange thoughts on an old typewriter can only evolve into a tale of a strange man who works at a strange company with strange things happening—I think that’s an actual rule. If Office Space and The Matrix took a bunch of acid and wound up having a threeway with Shakespeare, this would be the baby of disputed paternity. Highlights included Shakespearean dirty talk, Cat Campbell in a tight skirt, and me having nightmares about sunglasses forever.
Shakespeare in Space – by Matthew Brown, Directed by Stephanie Ditty
I’m not sure which one made me laugh harder: this one, or Asap. They were both really goddamn funny, so I guess it doesn’t matter. A mustachioed Betty Burns sells the grandiose warnings of Dr. Butts with gusto, and Katheryn Jackson literally sparkles as Captain Dogberry. I don’t want to ruin any of the jokes, but let me just say there are a LOT of them, and they were right in that sweet spot between dirty and nasty (the anus).
Thou Art an Ass, Orlando – by Saralysette Ballard, Directed by Delisa Freistadt
Ann Fox and Nick Anderson share a scene in this play that centers around the reading of a scathing theatre review, dismantling every element of a local Shakespearean performance. Well, scathing might not be strong enough, an eviscerating review that’s full of the most deliciously cruel comparisons. It was so fun to listen to, I was tempted to try my hand at it as a literary exercise, but then I realized people who hadn’t seen the play wouldn’t get the joke. (You really should go see it, it’s a good time.)
Asap – by Sean Proctor, Directed by Hugh Brashear
What more is there to say beyond the words “Samantha Perry”? If you’ve ever seen her in anything (including real life), you know she’s hilarious, and physical, and absolutely committed to the bizarre. Add to that the lively and charming performances of Tony Daum, Ryan Chiah, and Thomas Billheimer III, a really fun script, and a play that cannot be named, and you’ve got an evening that ends on a definite high note.
Fresh Ink runs for three more nights—Thursday the 19th through Saturday the 21st at the Blue Room Theatre. Tickets are $10 in advance (available at Lyon Books and blueroomtheatre. com) or $12 at the door. Shows start at 7:30pm, doors open at 7:00pm