A smorgasbord of 'Local Produce'

In her program note for Ashland Community Theatre's Short Plays by Rogue Valley Playwrights, producer Jeannine Grizzard wrote, '"Local Produce' is more of a salad than a stew." Whether lightly tossed or slowly simmering, the evening of eight plays at the Bellview Grange serves up saucy situation comedies surrounding sex and aging.

Senior Citizen Pearl (Nancy McLeod) attempts to rekindle a pre-World War II love affair In "Stockings" by Julia Sommer.

In "Remember Me?" by David C. Hill, Sam (Peter Quince) is ensnared by a beautiful but hysterical woman. She vividly recalls their wild Las Vegas affair; he draws a blank.

In "The Plane Ride" by Archie Koenig, Roger (Peter Quince) is pressed into a detailed confession of his peccadilloes.

Ruth Wire's "The Ezha Bubbe" shows Helga (Margarita Turkow) demonstrating the physical and mental grotesqueries of aging.

Bob Valiene's "Blind Date" explores the circuitous and slippery slope of seduction. When Nick (Winston Bishoff), a notorious local heartbreaker, is captivated by the enigmatic Jan (Victoria Stewart), she tells him, "For someone so dishonest, you're very gullible. It's an attractive quality."

In Darlene Ensor's "Good Morning, Dr. Nelson's Office," the doctor's receptionist, Dorrie (Kathleen Marrs), alone in the office, balances bizarre phone calls from patients while placating her mother, who is panicked at the thought of having sex: "He's an earth sign. You're a water sign. Together you make mud."

Built on a clever premise, "Over It," by Sarah L. Cornett-Hagen and Cynthia Rogan, has middle-aged ladies (hands held high) flipping-off everyone in sight in an attempt to modify previous unwanted behaviors.

The shadow box stage imbedded in the wall of the Bellview Grange leaves little room for inventive staging. Many of the plays were reduced to talking heads, except for some gymnastic smooching between private detective Dick (Joe Caron) and his client/suspect, Liz (Kristen Lorange) in the film noir spoof "Of All the Gin Joints" by Cathy Noah.

Superb 10-minute plays have been written; Dorothy Parker, Harold Pinter and Eugene Ionesco are masters of the art. In "Local Produce," there's some interesting dialogue along with unique situations resulting in a few belly laughs. And it's all brought to you by eight enthusiastic and competent actors who truly enjoy doing theater in a comfortable venue.

Directed by Will Churchill, "Local Produce" plays Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. with Sunday matinees at 2 p.m. through Jan. 31 at the Bellview Grange, 1050 Tolman Creek Road. For tickets and information call 541-646-2971 or visit ashlandcommunitytheatre.org.

Evalyn Hansen is a freelance writer living in Ashland. Contact her at evalyn_robinson@yahoo.com.

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