There’s nothing ordinary about Generic Theatre

The Generic Theatre Company opens its season this weekend with “A Night of One Acts.” Each of the three one-act plays encompassed in the performance is unique but the plays combine to create an entertaining and intriguing evening.

The audience is taken on a virtual field trip in Ray Bradbury’s, “The Veldt,” the first of the one-acts. This imaginative play takes place in a children’s play room. While trying to understand the meaning of a new toy, the sibling characters struggle to find their role in the family. This new toy, a virtual traveler, takes the children – and the audience – on adventures to new places.

Director Michael Andrews forces audience members to use their imaginations as they watch the children experience life through their journeys. Although the play initially gives the illusion of simplicity, it has a deep message, which is difficult to uncover, and the audience inevitably feels baffled.

The second one-act in the series centers around a different kind of journey. In “Hello Out There,” written by William Saroyan, the main character, a nameless man, calls out from his prison cell. The young prisoner, a floater and a gambler, is in search of someone “out there” with whom he can identify. When Emily, an employee of the prison, answers his calls, they develop a strange bond.

The two main actors in “Hello Out There,” Brian Elerding and Anne Kramlinger, convincingly convey the rare and bizarre scenario to the audience. Director Casey Ahn Reivich wisely uses space as a tool to demonstrate the characters’ anxiety and needs. The talent of the actors helps the audience visualize the setting and scenery that are not physically present. Without talent, the play would be dry and empty, but the actors compensate for the lack of visuals.

The actors do not, however, make it easy to understand the show’s message. The audience must dig to find the meaning in the characters’ relationship. It forces one to think about fate and destiny, as well as love and desperation.

The third one-act, “Andre’s Mother” revolves around Andre, a homosexual man who died of AIDS. Trying to deal with Andre’s death, Andre’s boyfriend struggles with his own pain while attempting to reach out to Andre’s mother. Andre’s mother, who never is given a name, was an invisible entity in Andre’s life. She disapproved of her son’s lifestyle for years, and she now must come to terms with his death. Although she remains silent throughout the entire play, her gestures and expressions reveal her pain and the emotional struggle she endures.

The play, written by Terrence McNally and directed by senior Melissa Klein, provides an intense conclusion to “A Night of One Acts.” Although sad, the final play is the least complex of the three. The audience easily identifies with the thoughts and feelings because they are natural human emotions.

“A Night of One Acts” provides theatergoers with an opportunity to contemplate complex stories and to appreciate good acting. When the Generic Theatre Company features a play like “A Night of One Acts,” the focus is on the talent of the thespians. Fancy sets and high-tech lasers detract from what these artists have to offer. The audience members do not experience visual overload from light spectacles or special effects, but they leave satisfied by the talent evident in every aspect of the evening.

“A Night of One Acts” will run Friday through Sunday at 8 p.m. in Downstage Lisner. Tickets are $3 for students and $5 for non-students.

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