The WorkShop Theater Company
The Foolish Theatre Company
By RICH ORLOFF
WorkShop Theater Company Mainstage, 312 W. 36 St., 4th Floor, NYC
January 7 – 29, 2004
Directed by HOLLI HARMS
Sets TIMOTHY R. MACKABEE
Costumes CHERYL A. McCARRON
Lights ANDREW ROTHSCHILD
Props YANA BABAEV
Production Stage Manager STEFANIA SCHRAMM
Press Representative SHIRLEY HERZ/DAN DEMELLO
Richard Kent Green – Gary Mink – Laurie Ann Orr
Gerrianne Raphael – Kim Reed – Greg Skura – Baz Snider
Rich Orloff’s FOREIGN AFFAIRS is a collection of seven of his short comedies. Set in different times and places, and running a collective ninety minutes without an intermission, this tasting menu of virtual travel guarantees that before any one stop becomes too interesting or too boring, we will be off on a new excursion. Over all, it is a satisfying travelogue. Not too deep, and just ironic enough to allow everyone to get most of the jokes, these shorts are more than mere theatrical tidbits. They are welcome distraction minus the couch potato guilt factor.
The seven plays bring us from 1989 East Berlin to 2004 Bulgaria, and to Prague, a TV studio, Buenos Aires, somewhere cold and Rio on the stops in between. As a whole, there is no one theme that runs through FOREIGN AFFAIRS, but it works all the same. BERLIN PROMOTION presents uncertain bureaucrats witnessing the fall of the Berlin Wall. In PRAGUE SUMMER an idealist, finding the old ways falling out of favor, escapes the past in a flight of glory. Going in a totally different direction, I MARRIED A POPE: THE PILOT EPISODE introduces a new television series about an American Pontiff from New Jersey who marries a showgirl after getting drunk at a bachelor party. In TRIUMPH IN ARGENTINA a visiting German couple fantasizes about Hitler, and wants their new friend, an American working in Buenos Aires, to get in on the fun. OFF THE MAP, a metaphoric take on a marriage gone cold, uses the landscape and one very insightful penguin to make its point. In BRAZILIAN WAX ELOQUENT we meet an older couple on vacation. In a departure from the other plays, the resolution to this one is down right sentimental. Finally, BULGARIAN RHAPSODY shows us a world where people are so desperate to touch American soil, they would be willing for only a piece of themselves to make the trip.
Whatever the setting, the best parts of FOREIGN AFFAIRS exist due the actors’ astute line delivery of Mr. Orloff’s written repartee. Kudos are also due costume designer Cheryl A. McCarron for her memorable creations in both PRAGUE SUMMER and OFF THE MAP. The set, a collection of suitcases, trunks, and the like serve as a reminder of both the title and the variety of human baggage being stoked for humor. Holli Harms’ tight direction keeps the action moving, and she has found a creative solution to scene changes that take place without the cloak of a curtain.
Not about travel, but spanning the globe in search of satire, Rich Orloff’s FOREIGN AFFAIRS is just about what I expected. I found moments to ponder, I got in some laughs, and in this chilly New York winter, I got in out of the cold.
- Kessa De Santis -