Rants, Raves and Reviews: Unwrap Your Candy - please!

Unwrap Your Candy by Doug Wright
Directed by Gregory Scott Campbell
Walnut Street Theatre Studio 5, Philadelphia
Oct 18 to Nov 12 2006
Luna Theater Company

Philadelphia, PA:  For at least the past twenty years whenever I visited a city where there was a Children's Hospital, I always made a point of arranging a tour of the laboratories.  It was endlessly fascinating for me to see how practices differed from our own pediatric laboratory at Children's in Vancouver.  And since yesterday I was here to visit the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia it was great to have the chance to see around their impressive facilities. But in keeping with transitioning my life from science to the arts, for the next twenty years when I travel I plan to make a point of visiting theatres instead of labs!  That's why over the past year you have seen Rants, Raves and Reviews from Chicago, London, New York, and now Philadelphia.

Thanks to one of the pathologists who is a music and theatre lover, I had the chance to see an evening of four short plays by Doug Wright at the Walnut Street Theatre. Vancouver theatre goers will remember the recent Playhouse production of "I Am My Own Wife" by Wright. The stunning set design still stands out clearly in my memory.  Incidentally the Walnut Street Theatre is apparently the oldest continuously-operating theatre in the English speaking world, having been founded in 1809.

Luna Theater's production of these 4 short plays was held upstairs in the 52 seat Studio 5, an intimate playing space where the audience is almost part of the action or in this case, I shouldn't say almost.  The first short piece Unwrap Your Candy  engaged  the audience through an instant recognition of the nightmarish type of people you pray wont be sitting near you. There's the man who starts to snore as soon as the lights dim; and the woman who thinks that the "please turn off your cell phone" announcement doesn't mean her cell phone. The surgeon who really wants to turn off his beeper, but did he make a HUGE mistake when he operated today?  And yes, the crackling candy wrapper - but which alternative is worse, the crackle or the hypoglycemic "psychosis"? Who among those watching this nightmare crowd of bums in seats, didn't want to applaud when Angry Man tries to strangle Cell Phone Lady?

Then just when they thought they could relax when the lights are dimmed for set changes, audience members are suddenly spotlighted while recorded voices purport to reveal their inner thoughts.  Creepy…and funny too, except when it's you under the flashlight.

Director Gregory Scott Campbell kept this first class ensemble cast brilliantly on track bringing out the wit and weirdness of Wright's script. The four actors played multiple roles. I specially liked Chris Fluck's creepy Dr. Simeon, Kirsten Quinn's Fashionable Woman and Ms. Havilland, Jaidy Schweer's Alice. Alan Radway was very funny as the Physician but absolutely hilarious as the beer swilling cigarette smoking Baby.

The other three pieces:
Lot 13: The Bone Violin was a weird tale of an exploited young violin prodigy. I think I missed the point. Was it an auction and a funeral? This is one example where I would have liked to have read the script before seeing it.

Wildwood Park is a for-sale mansion where bad things have happened! Realtor shows house to prospective buyer. The plot is a bit predictable but strong performances by Quinn and Fluck sustained the tension.

The Baby is a sort of "Rosemary's Baby meets post-partum depression; very funny and a great note to end on. 

Overall a fun evening. This was the kind of theatre I love. Clever, entertaining, great acting. Nice way to end my visit to Philadelphia.

Unwrap Your Candy by Doug Wright Directed by Gregory Scott Campbell Walnut Street Theatre Studio 5, Philadelphia Oct 18 to Nov 12 2006 Luna Theater Company Philadelphia, PA: For at least the past twenty years whenever I visited a city where there was a Children's Hospital, I always made a point of arranging a tour of the laboratories. It was endlessly fascinating for me to see how practices differed from our own pediatric laboratory at Children's in Vancouver. And since yesterday I was here to visit the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia it was great to have the chance to see around their impressive facilities. But in keeping with transitioning my life from science to the arts, for the next twenty years when I travel I plan to make a point of visiting theatres instead of labs! That's why over the past year you have seen Rants, Raves and Reviews from Chicago, London, New York, and now Philadelphia. Thanks to one of the pathologists who is a music and theatre lover, I had the chance to see an evening of four short plays by Doug Wright at the Walnut Street Theatre. Vancouver theatre goers will remember the recent Playhouse production of "I Am My Own Wife" by Wright. The stunning set design still stands out clearly in my memory. Incidentally the Walnut Street Theatre is apparently the oldest continuously-operating theatre in the English speaking world, having been founded in 1809. Luna Theater's production of these 4 short plays was held upstairs in the 52 seat Studio 5, an intimate playing space where the audience is almost part of the action or in this case, I shouldn't say almost. The first short piece Unwrap Your Candy engaged the audience through an instant recognition of the nightmarish type of people you pray wont be sitting near you. There's the man who starts to snore as soon as the lights dim; and the woman who thinks that the "please turn off your cell phone" announcement doesn't mean her cell phone. The surgeon who really wants to turn off his beeper, but did he make a HUGE mistake when he operated today? And yes, the crackling candy wrapper - but which alternative is worse, the crackle or the hypoglycemic "psychosis"? Who among those watching this nightmare crowd of bums in seats, didn't want to applaud when Angry Man tries to strangle Cell Phone Lady? Then just when they thought they could relax when the lights are dimmed for set changes, audience members are suddenly spotlighted while recorded voices purport to reveal their inner thoughts. Creepy-and funny too, except when it's you under the flashlight. Director Gregory Scott Campbell kept this first class ensemble cast brilliantly on track bringing out the wit and weirdness of Wright's script. The four actors played multiple roles. I specially liked Chris Fluck's creepy Dr. Simeon, Kirsten Quinn's Fashionable Woman and Ms. Havilland, Jaidy Schweer's Alice. Alan Radway was very funny as the Physician but absolutely hilarious as the beer swilling cigarette smoking Baby. The other three pieces: Lot 13: The Bone Violin was a weird tale of an exploited young violin prodigy. I think I missed the point. Was it an auction and a funeral? This is one example where I would have liked to have read the script before seeing it. Wildwood Park is a for-sale mansion where bad things have happened! Realtor shows house to prospective buyer. The plot is a bit predictable but strong performances by Quinn and Fluck sustained the tension. The Baby is a sort of "Rosemary's Baby meets post-partum depression; very funny and a great note to end on. Overall a fun evening. This was the kind of theatre I love. Clever, entertaining, great acting. Nice way to end my visit to Philadelphia.

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