Monday, June 27, 2016

Charlene Baldridge
Photo by Ken Howard
More of the Fringe

Dr. Svetlana

Moving right along, I went to see Thom Vegh’s Dr. Svetlana at the Fringe Rosewood Space Saturday at 1pm. I wouldn’t stake my life on it, but I think the entrance, on Seventh Ave. takes you to the same basement in which Jack Gambrel of Sixth Avenue Bistro once attempted to open a dinner theatre eons ago. I remember only one the two shows they did. It was I Do, I Do, performed by Leigh Scarritt and Duane Daniels.

The Rosewood is a single space that seats around 40-50 patrons, though the acoustics are not as good as the 4th floor theatre at Tenth Avenue Arts Center, not being used this year. Prime of the small spaces so far is the Black Box at Diversionary.

Thom Vegh as Dr. Svetlana
Photo by Kaleb Scott

Though it is a challenge to write about Thom and his work (he is a close friend of more than 20 years duration), let me assure you that Thom’s Dr. Svetlana’s Public & Private Health Lecture Demonstration – created out of whole cloth – is a stunning example of theatrical detail, both in conception and execution. The character, informed by Thom’s middle European roots, continues to reveal herself to her creator. She is meticulously attired for the lecture she delivers, a kind of healing force somewhere between psychiatric truth and self-help mumbo jumbo. The piece and the performance – which incorporate a lot of audience interaction – are funny, entertaining and brave. Svetlana is measured and precise, graceful and elegantly coiffed (except for one stray lock), but she carries with her a secret that she has never divulged until now. This is evolved theatre from a master craftsman.

Belief No Repeat

Sunday afternoon I returned to the Rosewood Space to see a piece directed by James P. Darvas titled Belief No Repeat. Darvas has been artistic director of his own San Diego Play Co. for the past two years. They specialize in bringing unique community voices before the public.

In the case of Belief No Repeat, it is a rapid fire play written by Courtnee Lynn Stagner about three unrelated Muslim youths living independent lives in a big U.S. city. The male, an agnostic and a student, is Taseer (Aaron Lugo), who orbits between the two women, Salma (Ray-Anna Young) and Salma Kahn (Natalia Maggio), offering advice and counsel. and romance to each. Salma is an actor and Ph. D candidate, certain of what she wants, and Salma Kahn, a writer, is apparently the more devout, unhappy with her life and homesick for Pakistan. All have lost their families to war and conflict. According to the program description the play concerns one young woman living in parallel universes.

Belief No Repeat is well acted by these three young actors – apparently all one person – under Darvas’s direction. Because of the accents and the rapid exposition, I felt at a loss to understand fully, but I was affected by the unforced denouement. This is play worth seeing and these young people are worth watching. If I had time I’d see it again. Belief No Repeat repeats at 6pm Friday and 7:30pm Sunday at Rosewood Five Studios, 1150 Seventh Ave. Downtown

Fringe coverage continues in a few days.

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