One of my favorite annual theater traditions is attending AN EVENING OF ONE ACTS at the Ridgefield Theater Barn in Ridgefield, CT, always an amazing time with great comedy! It was such a pleasure experiencing the 2021 AN EVENING OF ONE ACTS, on Friday, June 18. I greatly enjoy the consistent high quality entertainment that the Ridgefield Theater Barn brings with these unique original one act stories!
The 2021 edition, while still phenomenal, differs from previous years in two major ways. The first way is that in the past, there were more than five one acts, with vignettes in between, while this year, there were strictly five solid one acts, with no vignettes. The second difference is that in the past, strong comedy was consistently the central focus, while this year, the first three, although with comedic elements, had emotional drama as their primary genre.
At the Water’s Edge is a dramatic encounter between a woman and a merman, at the beach, while Wait For It is a tale of a man who goes to funeral banquets for free food and encounters a woman who accidentally went to the wrong restaurant for the wrong funeral banquet. While both of these are comedic premises and certainly contain elements of comedy, the deeper emotions of the characters involved are the central focus of both of these one acts.
Slow Dating is written by Adam Szudrich and directed by Linda Seay. The strong acting of Stephanie Hepburn, as Ester, carries this one woman one act while keeping the audience hanging on every word. While the comedy is well written and brilliantly delivered, the drama is what carries this story. Ester gives her first person account of how her curiosity about speed dating for seniors puts her into a situation that jeopardizes her fidelity to her husband of 52 years. She delves deeply into her emotional turmoil as the journey towards a potential affair continues to steadily progress in that direction, while she remains heavily conflicted and yearns for an escape from the looming temptation. Stephanie Hepburn’s stellar acting makes you care about her character and her character’s situation, as you root for her to find the inner strength to escape the peril of the impending affair. Will she give in, let go, and have an affair, or will she find a way to escape what would be an atrocious decision? Come to the show and find out!
Foothold is written by Pat Lennon and directed by Brian DeToma. This one is a pure comedy spurred on by the over-the-top farcical character Mary (Bonnie Rose) juxtaposed by the straight man character Thomas (Bill Warncke.) Mary is an eccentric, personable, and uninhibited receptionist in a podiatrist’s office, while Thomas is a patient. Thomas arrives early for his appointment, and is entertained by Mary while they are waiting for the doctor to arrive. The hilarious back and forth between the two is brilliantly written and performed. Bonnie Rose and Bill Warncke have excellent stage chemistry, playing off each other in a convincing manner for this farcical one act.
One Night Stan is also written by Adam Szudrich. It is directed by Nancy Ponturo. This tells the story of three different women in three different generations who all manage to date the same man on the same day in the same location, but all at different times during that day, so no two dates interfere. It is a comedic exploration into how modern generations are so different from one another that they process the actions of the same person through different lenses, mindsets, and worldviews, often leading to polar opposite conclusions. This high speed one act has excellent comedic pacing between highly talented actresses Carolyn Savoia, Kimberly Marcus, and Kelly Kirby who all keep the audiences’ attention while being on stage together the whole time, yet never directly interacting with each other, rather each one addressing the audience describing her own experience with the man, Stan, and her feelings about him and his behavior. This concept totally works for this one act, largely because these three incredible actresses manage to successfully play off each others’ energy, even without direct interaction between their characters.
I highly recommend AN EVENING OF ONE ACTS at the Ridgefield Theater Barn in Ridgefield, CT. It is scheduled to run through July 10, 2021. For times and tickets, please go to https://ridgefieldtheaterbarn.org/.