Presented by Brown Box Theatre Project
Works by Samuel Beckett, Harold Pinter, Tenessee Williams, Diana Raznovich
Works directed by Darren Evans, Kyler Tausin, Anna Trachtman
Performed by Cameron Gosselin, Meredith Stypinski, Lizzie Milanovich, Johnny Quinones, Janelle Mills
Boston: April 24 – May 3, 2015
290 Congress St
Review by Kitty Drexel
(Boston, MA) Brown Box Theatre’s mission involves bringing accessible theatre to uncommonly accessible spaces. They’ve made a home on Atlantic Wharf and Delmarva (MD). Their current production Boxer Shorts: an evening of short plays brings many genres to the same stage. In one sitting, the audience experiences a range of theatre from the mundane to the absurd. The result is an interesting evening of entertainment with varying levels of success.
Boxer Shorts opens with “Play” by Samuel Beckett. Our players (in order, house left to right: Lizzie Milanovich, Cameron Gosselin, Meredith Stypinski) are bodiless heads precariously perched on what appear to be Grecian urns stringing simultaneous monologues into dialogue into soliloquies. Like most Beckett viewed in hindsight, it was endearingly strange. The players’ diction was crisp, their rapid rhythms even, and their expressions purposefully blank. It was a very funny performance when it could easily have been blasé.
The second play, “The New World Order” (Harold Pinter) was the shortest of the evening. Two posh thugs (Johnny Quinones, David Berger-Jones) contemplate the existential plight of the man (Cameron Gosselin) they have kidnapped, gagged and bound. They theorize that their ugly job serves as a purification process to aid democracy. This one was cute. It was short and well acted. It was a lot less Pinter-y than it could have been.
“Talk to Me Like The Rain And Let Me Listen” is by Tennessee Williams. It’s stranger than most of William’s stuff. There were a lot of intentional long pauses between the dialogue/monologues. The Man (Johnny Quinones) is an extroverted, hard partier. The Woman (Lizzie Milanovich) is an extra-sensitive introvert. “Talk To Me” is about their inability to connect to each other on any level except the physical. Quinones and Milanovich did good jobs with their monologues and the empty space between. Their dialogue dragged painfully. It made the audience uncomfortable for the actors rather than sympathetic for the characters.
Last, but not least, is “Personal Belongings” by living playwright Diana Raznovich. If the writing of the other plays weren’t your cup of tea, this one was worth the wait. Casalia Belprop (Janelle Mills), or Diva as she is known by her fans, is trapped without supervision in luggage claim Hell. Mills shines as the neurotic, paranoid yet colorful Belprop. It’s a funny albeit depressing look at a woman’s struggle with existential displacement in a country of unknown location. She loses her figurative marbles only to find literal skeletons in her luggage.
Boxer Shorts is an evening of theatre intended for all audiences but may be more suited to those looking for a deep think rather than a sincere feel. It’s a short, strange production with many great moments of artistry (including the brilliant set design by Mac Young). It is not everyone’s cup of tea and that’s OK. Not everything is.