Thursday, May 15, 2014

New Play Lab: Better

Tuesday evening I attended a reading of Better, a new work by playwright & SF State professor Michelle Carter. The loose plot concerns Emily, a smart & overly well-mannered 19-year-old student who is forced to leave her university & find a new path. It soon becomes apparent that Emily is the daughter of Amy Bishop, the University of Alabama biology professor who pulled out a gun at a departmental meeting & killed 3 of her colleagues. Though this crime shapes the action from offstage, the play is often lightly comic. Its dozen or so scenes, running under 90 minutes, go in several directions & include a spiritualist with a weakness for bad jokes, a job interview that pauses for yoga, awkward first time sex, & lessons in the history of fondue. Situations are usually left unresolved.

Five actors read the play standing at music stands & sometimes mimed their characters' stage business. An additional reader spoke the stage directions. The event was small, & the audience barely outnumbered the actors. My theater companions had already attended a previous reading of this play & were so impressed that they were coming back to hear it a second time. We chatted briefly with the playwright & some of the actors afterwards & learned that Ms. Carter has also written a play about Ted Kaczynski. There are currently no plans for a staged production of Better.

§ New Play Lab presents
By Michelle Carter
a developmental reading
Directed by Michael French

EMILY: Megan Trout
BEN: Soren Oliver
MICHAEL: Jeremy Kahn
LUISA: Catherine Castellanos
Stage Directions: Sarah Moser

May 13, 2014, 7p
Stage Werx Theatre

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