Currently, the Indiana Repertory Theatre is presenting its “Going Solo Festival,” featuring three plays, each showcasing a single actor telling a singular story.
Playing in repertory, is Fire In The Garden, with Ryan Artzberger, continuing until February 27; Neat, starring Milicent Wright, running until March 6; and In Acting Shakespeare, featuring James DeVita, which will be presented until March 13.
Though all three plays feature different stories and actors, what was particularly noticeable when seen by this writer yesterday, was that the productions all shared one thing in common. The commonality existing amongst them were the tour de force performances of all three actors in each vehicle.
In Fire In The Garden, a semi-autobiographical play by Ken Weitzman, Artzberger’s character is a playwright who is also a first time father undergoing an arduous yet meaningful journey through early parenthood. Facing his newfound challenges with humor, the bonding between him and his baby son is inspired by an unlikely source.
Imbuing his character with just the right blend of strength, introspection and sensitivity, Artzberger was superbly effective in conveying the transformational effects of fatherhood and the inherent love of a parent and concern for the welfare of his child.
Performing in Neat, Milicent Wright demonstrated a formidable range and artistry in this sequel to last year’s Pretty Fire in which she was also featured. Both works were written by playwright/actor Charlayne Woodard on whose life they are based.
The story recounts Woodard’s formative years growing up in upstate New York where she experienced the pains of adolescence, teen age rebellion, sexual awakening, identity struggles as an African- American, and subsequent politicization during the 70’s. Central to Charlayne’s story is the influence of her disabled and free-spirited Aunt Beneatha, aka Neat, on her outlook on life.
While seamlessly transforming into distinctive characters which included Charlayne, Neat, their entire family and many others, Wright gave a virtuoso performance as she re-created the playwright’s world and all the people in it.
Deserving of special acknowledgement, is IRT dramaturg Richard J. Roberts who directed Neat, and who once again exhibited his talent for drawing fine performances from actors, and his attention to style and detail. Larissa Kokernot who directed Fire In The Garden, is also deserving of praise.
In Acting Shakespeare, which was essentially a master class in acting and study in determination and fortitude, James DeVita told the story of his life in the theatre. Detailing a journey that began with him working on a fishing boat in his native Long Island, to graduating from college and eventually becoming a professional actor specializing in Shakespearean roles, DeVita, was both hilarious and inspiring.
Illustrating his memoir with dramatizations of excerpts from numerous monologues from Shakespeare’s plays, DeVita executed each of them with incomparable skill and finesse. As if the actor’s versatile performance wasn’t enough, his vibrant script also contributed to a total theatrical experience that was both highly entertaining and fully satisfying.
Creatively employed in all three productions are Robert M. Koharchick’s, striking contemporary set featuring a playing area constructed to look like hardwood flooring; Ryan Koharchick’s ingenious lighting design which effectively enhance all the character’s stories; and Ryan Peavey’s sound design which is notable for its subtlety.
For tickets and more information about IRT’s Going Solo Festival go online to www.irtlive.com or call 317.635.5252 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 317.635.5252 end_of_the_skype_highlighting.