Presented by Mill 6 Collaborative
Artistic directed by John Edward O’Brien
Co-managing directors: Irene Daly, Antoine A. Gagnon
Actors: Jake Athyal, Irene Daly, Jillian C. Couillard, Kelley Estes, Kevin LaVelle, Lonnie McAdoo, Mal Malme, Janelle Mills, Bob Mussett,Jason Myatt, Greer Rooney, Forrest Walter, Stephanie Yackovetsky
Review by Kitty Drexel
My apologies to the cast and crew of T Plays. I had intended to get this review out several days ago. Life interceded and prevented me from doing ago. Please accept this as compensation.
(Boston) The MBTA has its own special kind of magic that transcends beyond the brilliance of a puppy’s smile or the tragedy of a dropped ice cream cone. It affects us all, pedestrian, car-driver and commuter alike. It’s a wonder that local transit hasn’t inspired more art in Boston. That is where Mill 6 Collaborative steps in. This theatre troupe brought us six 1-act plays all inspired by the MBTA in its many forms. The playwrights pick a bus or T line out of a hat, ride the last trip of the evening and write a short play based on their experiences. They hand the show over to their assigned directors and actors who then churn out theatre for an audience three days later. The audience then votes* for their favorite. The play that wins gets to brag and return for the next round in 2014.
This year’s lineup featured drama inspired by the SL1, 47 Bus (Central Square to Southie) and all 4 train lines during rush hour. Most of the plays were humorous, successful pieces of theatre. All pondered real-life fears and truths. The winning play, SL1 12:32am for example, was about the different types of people one meets on the bus. Delia (Greer Rooney) expects Max (Kevin LaVelle) to be a regular loony. She expects that her trip to Terminal A will be miserable. What she learns is that not all extroverted late-night talkers have an agenda aside from making a human connection. The show was a sweet dollop of positive perspective. Boston commuters expect other travelers to be crazy. Most of us are just people taking getting from point A to B.
Last Train was not a successful piece of theatre – yet. This is important to mention because it was the only play to discuss the dangers of riding the T. Not every crime committed on MBTA premises makes The Metro or other worthy news sources but it is fairly common to see fights break out at Ruggles or after the bars close in Southie. There are shootings, muggings, rapes, etc. ad naseum. Boston is a city. If these things didn’t happen that would be news. Last Train accomplishes what the other shows do not: it forces the audience to acknowledge the dangers we face by stepping onto the platform. The criminal stereotype looks like Joe Normal: average height, average weight, average crazy eyes but that doesn’t mean the person who is a threat is average. This particular play could use a few more edits but playwright Rick Park’s subject matter was a brave choice. Rather than tell us about danger. He showed us.
There were 6 plays in total. All were worth seeing. Some such as What Does A Princess Have To Do To Get Some Enchantment Around Here? are a snippet of what appear to be full-length plays. This strange little nugget tells the abbreviated story of two JP farmers who capture the attention of a fairy princess on the Orange Line. It was cute but weird, very JP/Somerville. The 10 – 15 minute stretch the audience gets to see doesn’t make total sense but has the creative potential to fill up 90 minutes with laughs.
The T is something we can all relate to whether we take it regularly or not. It is a staple of Boston life. Its fluctuation can change a good day into bad or vice versa. The rhythms of its life dictate ours. This show should have a following as crazily devoted as T: An MBTA Musical. Heaven knows that rush hour gets so hectic that if we aren’t laughing, we’re crying. So, why doesn’t Mill 6 Collaborative advertise more/better? I don’t know. It should because all of the seats would have been full. This was a great way to blow off steam – especially now that the rabid, vastly traffic-ignorant students have returned to Boston.
*My personal favorites were: The Duck’s Autoreply and All the Way to Wonderland. I am not telling you who I voted for.