The Original Winter One Acts is a Showcase for Aesthetic Diversity
A Review of

Sacrifices to the founder of Pantera, mile-high copulation, quirky office romances, and Mr. Alligator-induced dialogue all abound in Ram’s Head’s Original Winter One Acts, playing January 16-18 at Stanford’s Pigott Theater. To say that OWOA has no underlying theme this year would be a sordid understatement. But don’t worry – as is often the case in the art of combination, a loss in thematic uniformity is a showcase for aesthetic diversity. To my eyes, OWOA shows exactly this: how many directions a Stanford one-act can take.

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Henry Dances with the Man

Henry Dances with the Man opens with a pentagram sacrifice to Pantera’s Dimebag Darrell. After that, we don’t ever get a clear idea of what’s happening. Henry, our confused protagonist (played by Bren Bovee) navigates the play in an attempt to find the girl he sacrificed to the Pantera guitarist. Along the way, he meets several iterations of rock music’s greatest nemesis, the Man, each one played frighteningly well by Brandon Silberstein. There is a darkness to this play, and it goes hand in hand with the confusion we experience watching Henry wander aimlessly around the stage. What’s the point, you ask? Let me drop some knowledge on you: don’t ever ask. This play seems to be a lot more about a particular sensation than any given conclusion.

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Sex on a Plane

They’re young, they’re weird, they’re horny. While this one-act reminds me of those interactions we have at the airport gate, something seems off. Oh right, it’s the fact that perfect strangers talk about getting it on! Don’t be fooled: Sex on a Plane may err on the short side, but it stands on the shoulders of giants. Helen (Marly Carlisle) breaks all the rules –and looks fantastic doing it– as she convinces Martin (Brady Richter) that doing the dirty is the way to go. Elizabeth Knarr shows true engineering expertise in her economical staging, placing everything diagonally, so that when things need to feel intimate, she foregrounds them. A veritable side-splitter: trust me, you don’t want to miss seeing Sex on a Plane.

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Toes

Yash Saraf’s Toes features OWOA’s acting gems: Nishant Karandikar and Malaika Murphy-Sierra. Telling the story of a would-be-writer-if-he-wasn’t-in-advertising man and his would-adopt-kids-but-has-never-committed colleague, Saraf dips his toe (yes, I went there) in South Asian narratives, both contemporary and mythological, to show how a young man reckons with his ambitions and desires. After seeing this play, I can safely say that Karandikar is OWOA’s unsung diva, bringing raw talent to the table, and reaffirming the notion that it is never too late to start acting.

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There’s a Cool Grass Shaking Your Thought

Using Curious Media’s Mr. Alligator widget, writers Dana Edwards and Annalise Lockhart bring to you a peculiar kind of theatre: save for a few moments of sincere, or shall I say, comprehensible dialogue, you have to get what is happening from the staging, the actors’ body language, and the inflection of their voices. Nicole Bennett-Fite shows explosive sass as she reacts to her interlocutor’s insolence, and I’ll leave it to you to learn how. That particular moment is a powerful representation of how much of what we consider to be concomitant to verbal communication actually impacts our perception of reality.

OWOA 2014 runs Thursday-Saturday in Pigott Theater.  Get tickets here and check it out on Facebook here.

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