New Plays about Relationships at the Dragonfly Multicultural Arts Center

Relationships provide a fruitful topic for writers graced by the inspiration of muses Melpomene and Thalia. 70 such playwrights submitted their takes on the subject to the Dragonfly Multicultural Arts Center. The group’s production team selected their three favorite shows. They then presented them during their most recent Tuesday reading broadcast on Facebook and Zoom. Your correspondent witnessed the latter this September 8th.     

Australian playwright Adam Szudrich’s Rosa and Leo opened the program. Mr. Szudrich’s grandparents influenced this engaging tale about two Nazi concentration camp survivors. They fell in love while imprisoned, lost touch after their liberation then reconnected decades later. This story contained both poignancy and realism. The script included a host of comical counters. Mr. Sudrich showed cleverness through the way he crafted them. He applied these quips so that they balanced the overall story’s somber theme.

The setting worked well with the online format. The characters interacted with one another via a phone call.

Performer Susan Roberts played Rosa. She delivered her dialog with an authentic Jewish accent. She also dropped Mr. Sudrich’s zingers with aplomb. They included memorable witticisms. “Leo, some people make me weak in the knee, you make me weak in the stomach.” And: “There’s a nice place you should live. It’s called reality.”

Ms. Roberts relayed the tragic events of Rosa’s life movingly. The performer delivered a heartrending portrait of her life after the war. She described how the experience of the camp traumatized her marriage.          

Barry Leonard played Leo: a conflicted man. The character possessed sybaritic tendencies while feeling bound by “tradition.” In this complex personality, Mr. Leonard found his character’s heart. The performer expressed it best when he sang with Rosa. 

Playwright Vicki Riba Koestler’s drew inspiration from the recent college admissions scandal. Her show Anything for Addison, allowed the audience to sit in on Dr. Vera Carruthers’ (played by Amada Padilla) meeting with movie stars Jason Larkin (Jimmy Peoples) and his wife Daphne (Shauni Rami). Dr. Carruthers questioned the couple regarding anomalies on their daughter Addison’s application. The piece concluded with an outstanding plot twist.

Mr. Peoples played Jason as low-key. He remained calm under Ms. Padilla’s tough, yet professional questioning. Their demeanors contrasted very well with Ms. Rami’s Daphne.

Ms. Rami portrayed Daphne as a diva who just finished her tenth espresso of the morning. She utilized exaggerated gestures to express the character’s flamboyant personality. The quick flip of her hair from her shoulders and lowering and raising of her eyebrows were spectacular. Ms. Rami utilized her scarf as a prop brilliantly. She also performed a hysterical “Z-movie actress” attempt at a Scottish accent.

The final play in the trilogy also explored a topical subject. As in Mr. Szudrich’s play, the characters interacted via technology. Heidi Mae’s And You’re Bringing? showed the downside of inviting a “technically challenged” person to participate in a Zoom meeting. Sisters Jill (Laura Paone) and Wilma (Anna Paone) discussed the plans for their parents’ anniversary party. Enter exit re-enter and disappear again sister Dylan (Susan Holtz). The latter couldn’t manage the online format. Her screen cut out, she failed to center the camera properly and disconnected the other meeting participants.

As fans would expect from a Heidi Mae play, And You’re Bringing? contained a savory helping of humor. The menu for this party included vegan marshmallows. Wilma described one of the “losers” Dylan dated as getting “PTSD from working in a pizzeria.”  She told her Jill that her kids “live on cereal, mac and cheese and twenty-dollar bills.”

Getting cast to perform in one of Heidi Mae’s plays thrills thespians. The actresses in this one channeled that enthusiasm into their performances. Anna Paone spoke emphatically and used expressive hand gestures the entire show. Susan Holtz and Laura Paone delivered their own animated interpretations of Ms. Mae’s characters, as well.    

Anna Paone read the narration portions of each script to the audience. Since the performers didn’t act from a conventional stage, this aided spectators in understanding each playwright’s vision.

The Dragonfly Multicultural Arts Center has been performing online readings since March. Those with better technical skills than Dylan who want to build a relationship with the organization, can also indulge their pleasure-seeking tendencies. Interested fans can apply their time to watching the Dragonfly Multicultural Arts Center’s Tuesday evening readings on either Facebook or Zoom.

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