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Single Shot Theatre Company: Quad Is Rewarding Despite Its Rough Edges

December 7, 2006 - Durham, NC:


Single Shot Theatre Company’s presentation of Quad: 4 Insights by Beckett with a Brechtian Short and a Nabokovian Espial, which completes its run tonight at 8 p.m. at Common Ground Theatre in Durham, NC, is a provocative potpourri of short theater pieces by Irish dramatist Samuel Beckett (1906-89), German playwright Bertolt Brecht (1898-1956), and Russian-American writer Vladimir Nabakov (1899-1977). The show, which runs just 90 minutes (including intermission), is a showcase for the directorial talents of SSTC artistic director Lucius Robinson and the acting talents of Courtney Detwiler, Jonah Garson, Ryan Millager, Elizabeth Phillips, Rajeev Rajendran, and Travis Smith.

Act I opens with “A Piece of Monologue” by Samuel Beckett, which is set in a typically bleak Beckettian landscape. Ryan Millager repeats over and over again the story of a man who enters a dark room, finds and with some difficulty lights the lantern that he knows is there, and then stares at a blank wall formerly festooned with family photographs.

In Beckett’s “Rough for Theatre I,” a lonely wheelchair-bound one-legged man (Rajeev Rajendran) meets a blind guitarist begging the street (Jonah Garson) and tries to befriend him.

“Ohio Impromptu,” also by Beckett, has Travis Smith and Ryan Millager sitting across a table from each other. Smith reads from what is, perhaps, a holy book, and Millager taps the table when he wants Smith to repeat a passage.

In “The Jewish Wife” by Bertolt Brecht, Elizabeth Phillips brings the title character vividly to life in a rambling monologue—mostly spoken in snatches over the telephone to unseen parties—that centers on her imminent departure from the Third Reich, where her religion threatens to derail the promising medical career the husband (Travis Smith) whom she must leave.

Act II opens with “Quad,” another short play by Samuel Beckett. This time Ryan Millager, Rajeev Rajendran, Jonah Garson, and Travis Smith march to the beat of a very different drummer. They march and march and march wordlessly along triangular paths, walking along two sides of the quadrangle of the title and then diagonally bisecting the quad.

In “Canto III,” from Pale Fire by Vladimir Nabakov, a man (Jonah Garson) has a heart attack, collapses, and has near-death experience while others (Ryan Millager, Elizabeth Phillips, Rajeev Rajendran, and Travis Smith) either rush to his aid or star helplessly at his predicament.

Single Shot Theatre Company is a new and promising company of young artists devoted to staging experimental theater pieces. Their latest experiment, which closes tonight at the Common Ground Theatre, is a no-frills production, performed on a bare stage with a minimum of furniture and props to suggest various locales, and yet rewarding despite its rough edges. Of the five SSTC company members performing in Quad, Elizabeth Phillips makes the biggest impact, followed by Ryan Millager, Jonah Garson, Rajeev Rajendran, and Travis Smith—all of whom show promise, as does director Lucius Robinson.

Single Shot Theatre Company presents Quad: 4 Insights by Beckett with a Brechtian Short and a Nabokovian Espial Friday, Dec. 8, at 8 p.m. at Common Ground Theatre, 4815B Hillsborough Rd., Durham, North Carolina. $12. 919/259-0812. Common Ground Theatre: http://www.cgtheatre.com/.