By Joanne Engelhardt
Although the Pear Theatre in Mountain View is currently offering two 90-minute plays in repertoire through Oct. 2, one far outshines the other, most likely because one of them was written by a more experienced playwright.
Jen Silverman’s “Collective Rage: A Play in 5 Betties” is practically a laugh-a-minute as the lives of five women all named Betty intersect with one another in the most surprising ways.
Though audience members are warned that there is some foul language and nudity in “Betty,” it’s done discreetly and is certainly appropriate for adults. In fact, that’s one of the reasons why this one-act play is so funny.
… Clearly, you can never have too many Betties in a play…
Although all five Betties are good actresses, there are two who stand out for the absurdities that come out of their mouths and their ridiculously comic actions.
Crystal Liu is Betty 2, a quiet, unassuming woman who says she has no friends and is apparently afraid to look at her own privates. She always feels left out, and in fact she is the only one left whenever the other four Betties pair up. Liu’s Betty turns to her hand to talk to her—a clever ploy that enables her to have discussions with herself. Eventually, she decides to throw a dinner party for all the Betties, and she decorates by putting out a little wading pool, blow-up float toys, and beach balls.
The other standout Betty is No. 3: Vanessa Veve Melendrez. This Betty, with an itsy-bitsy size 1 figure, decides that she’ll become a playwright, then a director, as well as the lead actor in her own play. She bosses the other Betties around with varying success, but she does it all with such a cute, dimpled smile and shimmering little gold dress, that it’s difficult not to root for her whatever she decides to do.
Skyla Rose Adams (Betty 4), Carla Dejesus (Betty 1 but subbing for an actress who was not available one weekend) and Marjan Safa (Betty 5) are all fine, though Safa’s voice was sometimes too soft to hear clearly.
Clearly, you can never have too many Betties in a play, so make plans to see it before it closes on Oct. 2
The other Pear play, “Bull in a China Shop,” written by Bryna Turner, is a hodge-podge of short scenes that sometimes didn’t track. It attempts to cover a wide swatch of history—about 30 years, not always successfully. Dejusus (again subbing for a different actress) sometimes stumbled through her lines, but since she was just appearing in a few performances, it’s hard to fault her.
”Bull’s” other main actress, Tannis Hanson, as Jeannette Marks, was exceptional. But even with her skilled acting, it’s a difficult play to follow. Chase Kupperberg’s first-rate costume design, especially for “Bull,” adds a lot, and Tanika Baptiste does her best to direct both short plays.
Aisle Seat Executive Reviewer Joanne Engelhardt is a Peninsula theatre writer and critic. She is a voting member of the SF Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle (SFBATCC). Contact: email@example.com
|"Collective Rage: A Play in 5 Betties" *and* "Bull in a China Shop"
|Jen Silverman / Bryna Turner
|Thru Oct 2nd
1110 La Avenida St.
Mountain View, CA 94043
|Max in each category is 5/5
|Aisle Seat Review Pick?