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Four out of Four stars for the show


Posted February 9, 2007

Venture Theatre's one-act fest delights

By Warren Gerds

DE PERE — Fresh, fast, fun. That's the second annual "One-Act Theatre Festival" of Venture Theatre.

Nine plays by seven playwrights directed by nine directors and performed by six actors were introduced Wednesday with a preview showing. Action for the public starts tonight.

Most of the plays are comedies. Some have dramatic touches, and one is a straight-on drama about a couple in turmoil. All are by local writers. Performing are zesty local actors.

Space doesn't allow comment on all the plays, but all are worthy for this wonderful presentation.

Wonder starts with the opening "Fenster & Finch." Imagine a traveling snake-oil salesman — mustache, top hat, whirling cane and all — unloading a rhythmic spiel with the help of a spunky female assistant. Mike Eserkaln and Amanda Lyn Johnson play the parts and sing about the magic elixir in "Professor Finch's Formula." Written by Pat Quigley and directed by Mike Lorenz, this piece serves notice that this evening will be special.

Two pieces are monologues. "Writer's Lament" by Matt Worzala cleverly and comically delves a writer's (Eserkaln) attempt at romance. "Elmer's Tune" by Quigley wryly replays the life of a quirky organist (Thomas Knaus) as he entertains with a tune-filled show at an assisted living facility.

Bizarre twists are common — and laugh-inducing. "Dog Eat Dog" by Jon Bruinooge is about corporate cannibalism, literally. "Right Hand Man" by Joe Abrahamson finds an algebra-challenged mob boss in desperate straits.

Surprise fuels some pieces, perhaps none more than "Jack's Decision" by Eserkaln and directed by Peter Blavat. This play is about a family situation that leads to a cute ending. Out steps a figure to say the scene will be repeated, at the author's request. What follows — without giving anything away — is hilarious.

Altogether, what's happening at Venture Theatre is a robust run at creativity. It's worth your attention.


Joe Black

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