Tuesday, March 10, 2009

City Theatre does Matt Casarino's shorts

City Theater, residing at Opera Delaware Studios on S. Poplar, can always be counted on to invent ways to re-invent itself.

The organization's favorite son, playwright Matt Casarino, recently unveiled “Casarino Royale” staging seven (get it, 007) of his short plays, each fronted by an extemporaneous take-off of a Bond movie. Some of these opener skits fell flat, nevertheless, all were enjoyed by the raucous City Theater in-crowd.

“Yes Mamet” satirized playwright David Mamet's fascination with the “F word.” Casarino even coined a new term, “mametized,” signifying its continued use as noun, verb, adjective and adverb to describe pain, pleasure, hate and love. With such an emphatic and flexible word, really, I ask, how can anyone be offended?

In “Midnight Train To George,” T.S. Barnes (Kim) and Valerie Hutchinson (Raye) play women in a chance encounter on a train who had engaged in a menage a trois with the unseen (but happily contented) George. Their various stages of denial, recognition, embarrassment and resolution were superbly woven in a playlet of only 10 minutes.

While Barnes is a very good actress, I was especially impressed with Hutchinson. It is rare that an actor makes the audience feel so completely at home, comfortable in her skin and confident in her character. This is a gift.

On the writing side, the specific sexual encounter need not have been mentioned: prurience reaches greater heights in the imagination. Hints were dropped all along. We got the picture.

“Green Eggs and Mamet” saw a return to the aforementioned author and was the highlight of the evening. Jim Burns (Sam) played a smarmy con man the likes we haven't encountered since James Woods' slimy character in DeNiro and Sharon Stone's movie “Casino.”

Gordon Holmes (Man) was not to be deceived and parried Sam's grifter banter with aplomb. The dialogue was masterful and wildly inventive. “Green Eggs” refers to the author's conceit of lifting some of the rhythmic and rhyming beat from the Dr. Seuss classic. Pairing “desk” to “grotesque” was hysterical. The dialogue also reminded me of the ribald nature of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales.

A few of Casarino's plays have been picked up by licensing bureaus and have been presented internationally. Huzzahs to him.

The show runs through March 14. For more information, visit City-Theater.org.

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