’Til Tech do us Part: It is about love, technology and various themes revolving around both. Mature subject matter may not be suitable for black berries, pagers, and cell phones so please make sure they are powered down during the performance. Exits can be found to the front and to the rear of the theatre, just follow the screaming actors to safety. If you do enjoy our production, please tell your friends. If you don’t, tell your enemies.” , so comes the colorful introduction from The Magic Mirror theatre’s co-artistic director Trace Oakley and the stage is set, quite literally, for the mother (board) of all play festivals, ‘Til Tech do us Part’!
A T-shirt clad, white-haired gentleman, played pluckily by Paul Calderon, whose demeanor can only be described as that of a Rastafarian Einstein, sticks his head around
the upstage center portico and commences his smooth Jamaican accented narration of the festival’s first play, How to succeed in Romance without Really Trying/Connecting. Unseen by the hapless male protagonist, the Rasta voice sets, what the audience thinks will be the quaint stage for the perfect date as he reels off romantic rules of engagement ostensibly from the book the protagonist reads as our promising Casanova, in turn, acts on the instruction.
“Show your bohemian side with scented candles, and to mask (your apartment’s) odors…Dim the lights to set the mood (and hide how messy your place is)…Next, choose the perfect location for your telescope. Obviously, you want to put it in front of a window with a view. Choose a view your female companion will like as well.” At the arrival of his date, it is evident that she appreciates each of his well-read efforts, particularly the last, as she seductively strokes his telescope and continually checks her cell phone for social media responses. Until she confronts him directly (well, as directly as possible whilst continually stealing glances at her phone) she breathily admits, “I feel so close to you right now.” Having captured the mood, she begins extracting a little near-sadomasochistic-looking metallic trinket from her purse all the while seductively rubbing his body with it as she croons, “You know…nothing seems real anymore unless someone is watching you do it.”, at which point she unfolds it and places her cell phone upon what the audience eventually realizes is a little phone tripod. This, in conjunction with the telescope, unwittingly set up by our protagonist, is what eventually assists her in introducing him to the audience—the audience sitting in his own apartment! As the lights come up slightly in the auditorium, she gleefully shouts, “You all should be ashamed of yourselves just sitting there, watching. The guy in the red shirt…? Really, make him stop!” Our male protagonist eventually utilizes the telescope to see us all better, now comprehending the book’s instructions and essentially joins his lady companion as he mentally gets off on watching the audience amusedly get off on watching them. “For sex today doesn’t need a bed,” croons Rasta Einstein, “Love is different today now that we are all on show…”
Originally dubbed “The Magic Mirror Theatre” in February 2012, its primary goal was to put on children’s plays. Eventually this group decided to branch out to include adult-themed fare up to and including merging with another company all together. “Beginning on July 1st, we will be changing our name to ‘The Avery Schreiber Theatre’.” says concept creator and director Julie Raelyn. “I’m so excited to learn more about this man and his legacy.” artistic director Joanne Mosconi exclaims excitedly.
The plays range from hilariously clever to aimless and wandering , but are all bolstered and enhanced by the impeccable and colorful acting skills and direction of the company’s seasoned and diverse ensemble. Many of the titles alone are worth their weight in gold as they complete the fusion of romance and technology or general catchphraseology in deliciously burlesque wordplay, beginning with the festival’s title, “’Til Tech do Us Part: What Textpect while you are Sexting”.
In Vatican 3G by Joe Starzyk a priest prepares for confession, however, his female congregation member becomes increasingly suspicious when he laughs inappropriately at the mere admission that she would like to confess and uses phrases like “BRB” at inopportune times. It is soon discovered that said priest has a 3G phone and has been ‘multitasking’ during her attempted unburdening. “Don’t you have to take a vow of poverty?” Exclaims the ‘sinner’? “Have you seen our texting plan?” retorts the Holy Father. In the end, the female penance seeker is forced to give up her cell phone number so that she may confess, then receive her acts of atonement by text!
Kung Foolery by Brett Hurseyexplores the motives of a manchild husband intent on waging Kung Foo assaults on his mother-in-law every time she visits, resulting in numerous and erstwhile trips to the hospital. “The finger traps, the throwing stars… Maybe if you didn’t attack her every Christmas, she would give us something we liked!” barks his wife after he insults the literally gut wrenching fruitcake they receive each year. This visit, however, Mommy-in-law-Dearest may have learned some of her own Kung-moves via the Internet!
Status Update by Jamie Pachino, examines the perfect time to change a relationship status based on how many people will see it. “No, not now, the people on the East Coast aren’t up yet.” protests Liz. Her boyfriend Bobby naturally does not see the significance and changes it for her in the mist of their conversation. She argues against it and he changes it back. “Oh great, now I’m in a relationship, out of a relationship, they’re gonna think I’m crazy!” The importance of the relationship update is “not about how many men I’ve slept with but–ha ha–somebody doesn’t want me and now somebody does!” As soon as these words fly out of her mouth, our female protagonist receives a friend request from an ex-boyfriend whom she realizes is also friend of her current boyfriend and his uh…undesirable alter-ego on facebook.
In Clear History by Leo Simone, a most hilarious Carl Sunview played by Raymond Morris (Seriously, is he related to Rob Schneider?) attempts to get help from therapist Dr. Hatz. Said alleged therapist informs him she has created a “new app that allows me to see your brain like a desktop”. He consents, reluctantly at first. As the ‘therapist’ continues her work she observes, “You have all sorts of memories, mostly bad ones… (shuddering) REO Speedwagon lipsynching…?…Ooh, I didn’t know a student council president could be impeached!…I could clear some damaged files if you’d like…Oh my God, I deleted your whole history!” At which point, the alleged therapist, takes her Ipad-looking-contraption and her backpack and leaves just as the real therapist enters and registers that Mr. Sunview is feeling “a little empty” inside…
Spam Symphony by Alex Broun revisits every spam you’ve ever received in a near Gregorian chant by actors on a darkened stage holding flashlights up to their faces and repeating all the classic standard junk mail lines, some in comedically computerized sounding voices.
Scrambled by Brett Hursey explores how threatened a woman can feel when her husband (of 2 ½ months) buys tampons for another woman. The remedy? Her husband agrees to buy her something equally as personal but more important, but not before he hedges at passing out for a split second.
In Mute by Connie Schindewolf, husband Dan played by Ethan Grant, thinks he’s got the perfect solution to improve any marital regrets (“I love Kaye but when she opens her mouth I just want to be single again.”) by purchasing “a ‘Silencer Version 109’…it’s only $100.00 a month; no taxes or fees…’Cause it hasn’t been approved by the government yet.” One touch of a button and “she goes mute. Y’know how you hit ‘mute’ during a commercial? Well I’m gonna hit ‘mute’ on Kaye.” And Kaye played in a most deliciously Gilda Radnerish fashion by Elyse Noelle is deservedly muteworthy with her throaty, pinched, nasally, reedy voice. Little does Dan know however that she’s got her own husband controller in that of the ‘Pocket Master’ wherein she can get him to do her bidding in any and all materialistic senses without any say whatsoever in the matter!
Wink by Shanee Edwards: A hunky male sleeps on a couch. He awakes to find himself tied, ankle first, to its leg and staring up at the googley-eyed face of a babelicious yet crazed girl angry at him for not returning her last email, “Kitty Kitty Bang Bang is getting surgery on her pancreas not her gallbladder. The pancreas is way more serious than the gallbladder!” The crazed email non-receiver will only agree to untie this sexist lug if he will grant her a second Match.com date!
Just as the audience begins to wonder whether or not there will be a play encompassing a series of actors texting their lines to one another, the lights come up on an average American family having dinner ‘together’ in Please Pass the Salt by Debra Weiss. The son and daughter are engaged in cell phone calls in medias res followed by the father swiftly answering his as he blithely proclaims, “…no dinnertime is a good time to call.” The mother soon follows suit as she coos, “Oh it’s so good to have the whole family together for dinner.” into her mouthpiece. Their seamless dinner non-conversation is interrupted suddenly as the son gets a call on his other line. It has come from his mother sitting right next to him only to ask him the most mundane, yet topically important thing of all time…
All in all a fun, rousing and inspiring three evenings of theatre! ‘Til Tech do us Part is running three more nights at The Magic Mirror Theatre, 4934 Lankershim Blvd. in the NoHo Arts district. Sets of plays are divided into three “groups”. Group B plays (which include Status Update, Recalculating, Radio Shopping, Clear History, Mother’s Day, Spam Symphony and Scrambled) will be performed Friday, June 28th at 8 pm. Group C plays (which include Virtual Emotion, Mute, 10 Million Pieces, Wink, Sunny Side Up, Please Pass the Salt, and Wedding Belles) take place Saturday, June 29th at 8 pm and Group A plays (encompassing How to Succeed in Romance without Really Trying, Girls’ Night Out, Vatican 3G, Face Time, What are you Going to Be, Drenched and Kung Foolery) will be performed Sunday June 30th at 7 pm. The cost of admission is $20.00 per night. Tickets may be purchased at www.themirrortheater.com.