IF YOU GO
What: Five one-act plays about life, love and relationships
When: 7 p.m. Friday & Saturday, 2:30 p.m. Sunday through Feb. 18
Where: Rose History Auditorium at the Marco Island Historical Museum, 180 South Heathwood Dr., Marco Island
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MARCO ISLAND — The Island Players dug out the tie-dye tees, peace signs and lava lamps this weekend. The group serves up five one-act plays about life, love, family and the horizontal bop. While the writing leaves much to be desired, the acting lifts gentle, innocuous scenes to pleasant, enjoyable watching.
The umbrella title for the evening - "I'm Herbert ... and other strangers" - comes from a brief two-person play (just 7 pages) from Robert Anderson. "I'm Herbert" and bittersweet entry "I'll Be Home for Christmas" join three vignettes written by Renee Taylor and Joe Bologna from their collection "Lovers and Other Strangers." Between the five scenes, twelve different actors get time on stage.
The mix-and-match nature of the presentation can be frustrating for audiences looking for a full dramatic meal. While the quintet of plays on offer doesn't add up to anything beyond "love and family," the pleasantly mild material offers sweet, simple and pleasant chuckles without going for words or subject matter likely to offend anyone.
Judy Daye and Gary Grant lead the most solid vignette as parents of divorcing children.
Daye delivers a magnificent Italian mother ("You want some more veal, Frank?"), constantly nagging, rolling her eyes, screeching - everything but beating her husband and son with a rolling pin. She sketches the character within the limits of the material by going big, ("They're getting a divorce, Frank! Do something!").
Grant makes his henpecked husband a comic creation, especially as he tries to tell wayward son Richie (a comical Peter Galluzzo in an awesomely hilarious wig and bandana) about surviving marriage. Bea and Frank offer a view of fidelity from a decade when divorce didn't happen at the drop of a hat; there's something sweet about the relationship, even as the years visibly turn and they accept that the times they are a-changin.
Director Richard E. Joyce and Mai Puccio star in the title number. The title, "I'm Herbert," comes from a line Joyce's character repeats constantly because Puccio's character - his third (or fourth) wife - keeps calling him by one of her previous husbands' names. "But I'm Herbert!" he bellows time and again.
The pair get extra points for an absolutely brilliant ad lib. A piece of scenery that represented a window fell off the wall behind Puccio. Without missing a beat, Joyce jumped in with "I've been meaning to fix that." Not to be outdone, she capped the moment with "You've been saying that for years."
Other scenes offer slices of life seen through various perspectives. Rachel Gallentine and Kevin Moriarty fumble through a tie-dyed night of passion and philosophy. Scott Lilly and Kathy O'Brien get the pre-wedding jitters in a comic short. Joe Kelly and Pattie Ziesig deliver the most nuanced acting in a bittersweet piece about parents facing a changing future.
The show's never going to set the world on fire. It shouldn't have to and doesn't want to. What "I'm Herbert" and its kin can offer is a look inside life - and inside ourselves. Open your hearts, love the ones you're with - and serve good veal.