Stockton Civic Theatre’s “Night of One Acts”

Shows the Different Faces of Comedy

If you’re in the mood to explore the many faces of theatrical comedy, your curiosity will be well served by the trio of plays presented in Stockton Civic Theatre’s current production of “A Night of One Acts”. 
Three short plays are being presented in the intimate setting of the Pam Kitto Black Box Theatre, where audiences observe performances at such close distance that it’s not unusual for you to feel that you’ve crossed the line from observer to participant. Some of my own favorite moments in the little theatre occur when the action requires actors to seize an empty seat amid playgoers and begin confessing their problems, hopes, and frustrations.
The trio of one-acts here offers you a romantic farce, the secrets of blind dating in a small Southern town, and the dilemma of an accomplished actor who finds himself wandering and wondering in a strange theatrical world for which he is completely unprepared.
Drew Guerrero and Nikki Pendley. Photo: Sierra Fraser.
The fun starts with “The DMV One,” in which a female clerk at the Department of Motor Vehicles (of all places), can’t keep her private life separate from her professional duties. She gives every registration applicant who comes her way a grilling that goes far beyond standard procedure. You know something is amiss from the outset when a male customer (Drew Guerrero) approaches her station and finds the woman (Nikki Pendley) head down on her desk,  sobbing uncontrollably and blowing her nose with the force of a factory whistle. She recovers quickly to ask “May I Help you?” and begins asking personal questions that have nothing to do with driving skills.  Her persistence and his resistance are the essence of this amusing play written by Nick Zagone and directed by Bill Yee.
 Watching the contest between Pendley and Guerrero, one has to wonder. Will it end with a reprimand? An unconventional romance? Or another sobbing attack?  
Sabiene Fontanilla, Nathan Origer, Tara Rico and Kevin Rempfer. Photo: Sierra Fraser.
Horton Foote’s ‘Blind Date” takes us into a home somewhere in the South where a weary businessman (Kevin Rempfer) returns to his residence after a long hard day in quest of his dinner, only to find his wife Dolores (Tara Rico) more concerned with giving her young niece Sarah Nancy (Sabiene Fontanilla) the secrets of how to have a successful blind date. 
The problem here is that the niece is in no mood for either a blind date or her well-meaning aunt’s advice. The problem is compounded by the arrival of Felix (Nathan Origer), a country boy who seems to have cultivated his Southern accent and naive assumptions from Gomer Pyle. Between the urgings of her aunt and the down-home personality of Felix, the increasingly sullen Sarah Nancy does not seem destined to enjoy her evening. But one never knows what can turn a blind date from ordeal to pleasantry.
Directed by Rhonda Cummings, the play shows us another side of Foote, a prolific playwright and screenwriter famed for his Academy Award-winning screenplays of “To Kill a Mockingbird” and “Tender Mercies,” and his Pulitzer Prize play, “The Young Man from Atlanta”.  
Mike Moon and James Kusy. Photo: Sierra Fraser.
Christopher Durang’s “The Actor’s Nightmare,” directed here by Jaye Lee Vocque, is a comedy that blends humor, mystery and drama as It follows the  misadventures of actor George (James Kusy) who can’t understand why he is totally unprepared for a play in progress. The audience is aware why that is, but George is completely unaware that he is having a nightmarish dream of unpreparedness. 
The costumed actresses George meets in his confused path are played with snippy and snappy temperament by Amy Hagler, Jessica Delcid, and our gal from the DMV office, Nikki Pendley. They offer his dilemma nothing more than impatience and irritation, leaving George in acute perplexity.
Questioning who he is, where he is and what has happened to his formerly orderly existence, George enters the seating area of the theatre and moves from empty seat to empty seat, as if we spectators can lend an ear and perhaps advise him what we know and he doesn’t. One wonders how and when his consternation will end, especially as the climax approaches and the anxious actor seems destined for a sharp and swift fate rather a merciful awakening. 
Will our beleaguered thespian wake in time to banish his nightmare and save himself?  Whatever the outcome, one has to applaud James Kusy for his resilience and creativity in a doubly demanding role. When I met the actor on my way out of the theatre, I congratulated him on his performance and advised “George” to avoid further nightmares—-when, of course, his current string of them comes to an end with this Sunday’s matinee.
To prepare yourself at intermission for this final and most unusual comedy, you may wish to investigate the merit of the show’s signature cocktail, “The Actor’s Date,” available at the lobby’s refreshment bar. It is a mixture of vodka, triple sec, lime juice, blackberry brandy and simple syrup, topped off with Sprite ($10). Yes, Sprite.
Further research is required to see if this special beverage could be just the right medicine to bring the anguished George out of his unpleasant dream and back to his senses.  
May 23, 24, 25 at 7:30 p.m. Sunday matinee May 26 at 2:30 p.m.
Tickets: $23. 
Stockton Civic Theatre 
2312 Rosemarie Lane. Stockton
Box Office::(209) 473-2424
Business Office: (209) 473-2400

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One Comment

  • I love that your reviews of these three short plays made me further like and understand them😀👏
    Great writing and such a fun afternoon after getting back from my weekend away. Stockton has so much talent! Great to come home and head straight to SCT’s Black Box Theatre❤️

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