Stage Fright

A Halloween show that's 100 percent local, original, and -- surprise! -- good

One of the most interesting aspects of the character development is the use of interior monologues. At various points in the play, each main character's inner thoughts can be heard through speakers. These monologues don't exactly divulge the buried yearnings and repressed disappointment of these young people; rather they give more texture to characters who do not hide their feelings yet are not very articulate. What's amusing is each actor's physical relationship to his or her interior monologue; they all have excellent control of gesture, motion, and physical expression. For example Pierre clutches her hands nervously as she reveals her desire for a more masculine man. Her eyes grow wide, her face flushed. She is the picture of Puritanism. The writers also have managed to make the transitions from interior monologue to spoken work quite comical. As Prudence silently questions her husband's sexual orientation, she suddenly bursts out: "Let's bob for apples!" The interior monologue is just one aspect of Tei's creative and effective use of audio, which ranges from the original Halloween movie theme song playing on the TV to Pete putting on a House of Pain CD before attempting to kick Lucas' ass.

Lines such as "I took a cab so I wouldn't lose my space" and "Honey, don't tell me you forgot to pick up the appetizer trays at Publix" leave no doubt that our philanderers live in South Beach proper. Even disturbing news is disseminated in the most Miami of ways when Sandra exclaims, "I was on the treadmill at Crunch when they announced on TV there's a serial killer on the loose!" The manner of receiving this news is equally South Beachy: "Oh my God," Lisa says as she twists her freshly blow-dried wave of blond hair, "do you wanna beer?" The Miami references are not overdone and in fact add another dimension of parody to what otherwise would be simply a humorous comedy about contemporary relationships. The South Florida­specific satire makes the piece more interesting, entertaining, and intimate. (Also, the audience is literally sitting in the couple's living room.) Where else would we play spin the cell phone instead of spin the bottle?

But some aspects do feel false. Michael Vines plays a winning jerk (and when he acts out his aggression in his pig costume, adds both hilarity and absurdity), but someone hold my jack-o-lantern while I suspend my disbelief. Shouldn't the role of Pete be played by a hunkier type if we are sitting in on a SoBe pad? How can this chubby, average-looking guy be the object of not one but two women's affections without even being a club owner or a trust-fund brat?

One ghoulish night, a group of local talent got together and created a hilarious Halloween
One ghoulish night, a group of local talent got together and created a hilarious Halloween

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Through October 31, 305-576-4350
Miami Light Project, 3000 Biscayne Blvd., Ste. 100, Miami

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Without giving away the ending, can you say "overkill"? Playwrights take heed: Follow your instincts, not fads of the moment. The central conflict between Pete and Lisa is abandoned too soon for an easier Hollywood ending. We get yanked from an interesting interpersonal drama and thrown into a slasher movie for no particular dramatic or revealing reason -- a letdown in what was a funny and entertaining evening of theater. But something tells me the next show could easily end on a different note. Mad Cat has an exciting and contagious energy that comes from talented young directors, playwrights, and actors who are working for themselves and their peers. It is a vital and promising experience.

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