Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

February 19, 2019

REVIEW: Barrington Stage Company, The 8th Annual 10x10 New Play Festival

Barrington Stage Company, Pittsfield, MA
through March 10, 2019
by Jarice Hanson

What do ten playwrights, six actors, 2 directors, and one wiz-bang parody of Gilbert and Sullivan’s “Modern Major General” song have in common? They all represent the fun, creativity, and whimsy of the ten plays in Barrington Stage’s 8th Annual “10 X 10 New Play Festival.”

Though described by Artistic Director Julianne Boyd as an opportunity to “escape from the cold winter months” the festival of short plays has a greater function. They may be the “warm up” for the summer season, allowing audiences to see the versatility that is the hallmark of Barrington’s seasonal offerings. The six very talented actors appear in different plays as completely different characters and yet, they capture the emotions that make us human and relate to the audience with energy and verve that highlight the human condition. The different plays move at lightning pace, but cover topics as diverse as sexual misconduct, same sex marriage and a veteran’s memories, faith, bravery, old fashioned chutzpah, parenting, memory loss, and a wedding in which everything goes wrong.

Photo by Emma Rothenberg-Ware
The talented cast includes Michael Fell, Sarah Goeke, DeShawn Mitchell, Peggy Pharr Wilson, Keri Safran and Robert Zukerman. Five of the plays are directed by Julianne Boyd, and the other five by Matthew Penn. The actors move sets on and off of the stage while lighting and music serve signal transitions and the mood of the next piece. There is not a single dud in the ten plays but there were some clear audience favorites. One was “Twas the Day After Christmas” by Steven Korbar, in which a tightwad attempts, for the 8th year in a row, to return an artificial Christmas tree to a department store the day after Christmas. The other was, “Cold Feet” by Brad Sytsma, in which a bride sits amid chaos as members of the family and wedding party implode as the actual service gets closer.

The “10 X 10 New Play Festival” also allows Barrington Stage Company to introduce the summer season to patrons in the playbill, and this season is notable for the number of World Premiers that will be shown on both the Boyd-Quinson Mainstage and the more intimate St. Germain Stage. BSC has become a leader in innovative interpretations of classic theatre and comedy, and has successfully introduced audiences to new ways of thinking and responding with plays that can be challenging and thought provoking. With the season’s kick off “10 X 10 New Play Festival” Barrington Stage Company once again shows that we’re in for something great this year.