The One-Acts Festival, which took place in the library on Tuesday, October 30 and Thursday, November 1, kicked off this year’s Stuyvesant theater season with much laughter. Produced by senior Maggie Margolis and sophomore Jenny Che, the annual festival of short plays offered comedic shows like “Group” by Ethan Silverman, “Brenda and Jerry” by Renee Taylor and Joseph Bologna, and “Jimmy the Antichrist” by Keith J. Powell, as well as more serious plays like “Bong Hits 4 Jesus” by junior James Dennin and “Tone Clusters” by Joyce Carol Oates.
Bong Hits 4 Jesus
In “Bong Hits 4 Jesus,” the only play in the festival written and directed by a student (junior James Dennin), a rebellious teenager (sophomore Audri Augenbraum) discusses school censorship with a secretary (sophomore Alan Sage) and a rigid principal (junior Rosie Friend). Augenbraum brought cockiness and a spiteful energy to the stage as she debated with Friend, who played the skeptical authority figure.
The two had great chemistry, evident in the passion with which they argued about freedom of expression. While Sage portrayed his character more like a fellow student than a secretary, he added another perspective to the play as a more moderate character.
Jimmy the Antichrist
“Jimmy the Antichrist,” directed by juniors Molly Schaeffer and Alex Garabedian, put a humorous spin on a college student revelation. Jimmy (senior Maurizio Martinelli), after returning home from college, comes out of the heretic closet and claims to be the Antichrist.
Junior Arta Perezic’s depiction of Jimmy’s snarky yet sympathetic sister, however, was natural and her on-stage presence was impressive. She and junior Allegra Flamm, who played the mother, portrayed the modern mother-daughter rift perfectly.
Juniors Jack McDermott, as a flamboyant minion of the Antichrist, and Grace Klein, as the wild, disapproving grandmother, were hilarious. The performance was great overall due to the harmony within the cast—though the audience’s laughter sometimes drowned out lines.
“Tone Clusters,” directed by senior Christina Martin, had the audience enter the pain and torment of an elderly couple (seniors Susannah Gruder and Joe Kopyt) whose son is arrested for murder and rape. The two actors took very different approaches to their characters. Kopyt’s anger and resentment towards the community was brilliant, and made the audience sympathize with his fury. Gruder took a more compassionate and sorrowful tone, giving her and Kopyt’s character humanity.
Brenda and Jerry
“Brenda and Jerry,” directed by juniors Amy Crehore and Gaby Flamm, explores the nuances of a one-night stand between two singles who have different agendas in mind for the night.
The play unfortunately committed a few rookie mistakes. Sophomore Casey Griffin and senior Evan Kolesnick were almost inaudible and hidden from the audience most of the time. But when they were heard and seen, their performances were spot-on.
Kolesnick’s facial expressions were perfect for his sexual frustration, and Griffin’s subtle change from suppressing her desires to giving in to them was a funny take on her character. “They had great initial chemistry,” Crehore and Flamm said.
The night ended with “Group,” a play about a therapy session, directed by senior Caroline Brickman. Senior Linda Moftah gave a fantastic performance as a timid computer technician. Junior Sammy Sussman’s depiction of a therapy patient, however, was outrageous. Though humorous, his shenanigans ended up hurting rather than helping the show.
Sussman has a habit of imitating a patient, Linda (sophomore Kendra Miller-Rosenberg), and consequently annoying her. Near the very end, another patient’s hair fascinates him, a bit that is humorous until it is dragged out too long. This distracts the audience from important dialogue between Miller-Rosenberg and junior Anna Rubin.
While each individual actor generally had few lines, the cast made good use of their six characters. In contrast to “Jimmy the Antichrist” and “Brenda and Jerry,” “Group” focused on “the subtleties and […] the body language and facial expressions,” senior and audience member Nicki Fleischner said.