One advantage small theaters have over their big-budget siblings is the ability to take chances with new and untested playwrights. With less at risk – an audience of five or 10 won’t drive them to bankruptcy – such venues are a great place for new voices to learn and hone their craft.
Hamtramck’s Planet Ant Theatre has long provided a home to up-and-coming wordsmiths, especially in its Late Night slots. And that’s where Kelly Rossi has premiered her latest script, “On Parenting,” that runs through March 15.
Rossi, whose “Bitches Be Shoppin” was one of the highlights of last summer’s BoxFest, has returned with a comedy that examines the repercussions of a one-night stand. The Woman (played by Beth Ann Thibault) leaves the Man’s apartment (Eric Maher), never expecting to see him again. But six weeks later, she’s pregnant and totally ill-prepared to be a mom. A chance meeting with the Man, however, reunites them in what has to be one of the most unusual long-term relationships ever conceived.
And in THIS particular case, the typical teenage angst and anger expressed by their daughter towards her atypical upbringing couldn’t be more understandable. (Wouldn’t YOU be irate if, at the age 16, your parents STILL hadn’t named you?)
Although packed with fresh ideas and sometimes sparkling dialogue, the production has a few problems that need to be resolved.
One is to provide the audience with everything it needs to know in order to follow the plot. (Important information seemed to be missing or not fully developed.) And shifts in time are not always immediately apparent.
The most significant concern is partly structural and partly directorial. Rossi’s 75-minute script features about two-dozen scenes, each of which is followed by a blackout. And since the average scene change lasts approximately one minute, the audience finds itself in the dark for approximately one-third of the show’s running time.
All performances are adequate, but rubber-faced Sarah Korson steals the show as the nameless daughter and Alma, the Russian restaurant owner.
(FOR “REVIEW BOX”)
Late Night at Planet Ant Theatre, 2357 Caniff, Hamtramck. Thu.-Sat. at 10:30 p.m., through March 15. Tickets: $5. For information: 313-365-4948 or http://www.planetant.com