Review: Putin on Ice (This Isn’t the Real Title of This Show) at Single Carrot Theatre/The Acme Corporation

By Jason Crawford Samios-Uy

Running Time: 90 minutes with no intermission

Vladimir Putin is a curious character. Working his way up from the ranks of the KGB all the way up to the presidency of Russia, we all have our own opinions of him and some are more vocal about them than others. In the media, he’s portrayed in many different ways and his antics are regularly reported such as his stints practicing Judo or donning an ice hockey uniform and skating around the rink. Whatever you think about him, Single Carrot Theatre’s (with The Acme Corporation) latest offering, Putin on Ice (This Isn’t the Real Title of This Show) by Lola B. Pierson, Directed by Yury Urnov, with Lighting Design by Eric Nightengale, Sound Design by Steven Krigel, and Video Design by Nitsan Scarf, attempts to give a few facts and explanations about this complex, sometimes absurd man and through the style of Absurdist Theatre, actually makes for an charming, thought-provoking evening of theatre.

The cast of Putin on Ice (This Isn’t the Real Title of This Show). Credit: Single Carrot Theatre

I’ve got to admit. I do, in fact, have a strong dislike of Theatre of the Absurd, but… I can definitely appreciate it and this production is so tight and engaging, I’m able to appreciate it even more. From what I could gather, Putin on Ice (This Isn’t the Real Title of This Show) is trying to send the message that Putin is everywhere, no matter what the situation may be. It’s absurd, of course, but stranger things are possible, right? Each actor takes on a persona of the president and the ensemble performs through different scenarios to explain how this is possible and if it weren’t for the energized, polished performance, I probably would have taken them up on their offer that I could leave at any time, but… I didn’t. I was enthralled with this performance and the technical aspects involved that I sat through the entire 90 minutes and was thoroughly entertained.

The cast of Putin on Ice (This Isn’t the Real Title of This Show). Credit: Single Carrot Theatre

Lighting and Sound Design by Eric Nightengale and Steven Krigel, respectively, are two aspects of this production that shine through and pull this piece together. I’d compare Nightengale’s design to any big professional theatre out there today. He creates a night-club like atmosphere, for most of the show, but also manages to tone it down for more “serious” parts and it all works seamlessly. He knows his space and the staging well and keeps everything moving along nicely, setting the mood for each scene. Working in tandem with Nightengale’s Lighting Design, Krigel’s Sound Design is on point and impeccable. With appropriate sound effects, and the use of a live mic, Krigel’s work adds great value to this production. Both Nightengale and Krigel should be applauded and commended for their work on this piece. Kudos for a job well done!

Another technical aspect for this production is Video Design by Nitasan Scharf. Video and images play a huge part in this production and Scharf has put together a perfect design to help tell the story and move it along. I can only imagine the hours put into programing text and finding images that coincide with the onstage action but Scharf has done a splendid job and it’s clear his hard work and efforts have paid off.

The cast of Putin on Ice (This Isn’t the Real Title of This Show). Credit: Single Carrot Theatre

Jarod Hanson serves has Movement Director of this production and, though most of his work it seems happens at the beginning and during transitions, it is stellar. The ensemble is tight and polished and… that beginning. The movement, lights, and sound really get this production started with a bang and it keeps going from there. I gotta say, I am thoroughly impressed with the movement and choreography that goes into this piece and keeps it high-energy. I tip my hat to Hanson for his work on this production.

Yury Urnov takes the helm of this production and his Direction is spot on in, not necessarily telling a story, which I’m sure he can do just fine, but in getting the message across in this crazy style of theatre. I usually see Theatre of the Absurd as an art installation with people moaning and rolling around on the floor, however, not so much the case with this production. I was able to follow along easily and his staging keeps the energy up and the audience engaged. It’s clear he understands the style and the material and presents it in a way that is not too far “out there” and the comedy is not buried under pretentiousness. Urnov seems to be able to take this piece seriously, but the comedic aspects are not lost to him, at all. His casting is on point and the production, as a whole, with so many different aspects, works perfectly.

The cast of Putin on Ice (This Isn’t the Real Title of This Show). Credit: Single Carrot Theatre

One of the aspects I enjoy most about this production is that it is truly and ensemble piece where everyone is working together with no lead or featured character. The entire cast works well with and off of each other making for a smooth flowing and sophisticated production. Tania Karpekina (as Herself) starts us off speaking only in Russian and it sets the mood for the entire piece. I don’t speak Russian, but that was OK as her performance and delivery of her dialogue was good enough to keep me in the loop (that’s to say, I understood what she was saying enough to follow along, of course). All of the Putins: Baby Putin (Molly Cohen), Hockey Putin (Paul Diem), Judo Putin (Alix Fenhagen), Military Putin (Sophie Hinderberger), Putin with the Animals (Ben Kleymeyer), Putin with the Birds Separately (Meghan Stanton), Party Putin (Matthew Shea), Religious Putin (Mohammad R. Suaidi), and Drag Putin (Kaya Vision) all work hand in hand to relay this message to the audience and they do it skillfully and honestly with superb delivery of the dialogue and appealing staging. There’s even an impressive musical number with Paul Diem on Bass, Meghan Stanton on Piano, Matthew Shea on Trumpet, and Mohammad R. Suaidi on percussion, with vocalists Molly Cohen and Kaya Vision that brings the house down and these actors are playing their own instruments and singing live.

The cast of Putin on Ice (This Isn’t the Real Title of This Show). Credit: Single Carrot Theatre

Overall, I may not have liked the style of theatre for this production, I cannot deny the impeccable performances and superb production and technical aspect that makes this a successful production.

Final thought…Putin on Ice (This Isn’t the Real Title of This Show) isn’t my cup of tea but it is a very polished, well-put together production that Single Carrot Theatre should be proud of and applauded for. The performers are dedicated and have a solid grasp on Theatre of the Absurd. The mulit-media aspect keeps it engaging and interesting and the use of sound and light is enveloping keeping the audience in the heart of the piece. It’s a political driven work but the author is wise enough to let people know information is just being presented but, in the end,, the individual leaves with questions to think about and come up with his or her own opinions. It’s an innovative, creative experience that you should check out this season. Just remember… you are free to leave at any time.

This is what I thought of Single Carrot Theatre’s production of Putin on Ice (This Isn’t the Real Title of This Show)… What did you think? Please feel free to leave a comment!

Putin on Ice (This Isn’t the Real Title of This Show) will play through October 7 at Single Carrot Theatre, 2600 North Howard Street, Baltimore, MD. For Tickets, call the box office at 443-844-9253 or purchase them online.

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Review: A Public Reading of An Unproduced Screenplay About the Death of Walt Disney at Single Carrot Theatre

By Jason Crawford Samios-Uy
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Running Time: Approx. 90 minutes with no intermission
Walt Disney. Chances are, you know who he is and, more importantly, what he’s done. There’s no denying the man was uber-successful in business and “the happiest place on earth” came from the depths of his mind. However, for all the joy and happiness he brought to millions upon millions of people of all ages, even until this day, there was, of course, a darker side to this captain of industry. In Single Carrot Theatre’s latest offering, A Public Reading of an Unproduced Screenplay About The Death of Walt Disney by Lucas Hnath, Directed by Genevieve De Mahy and Matthew Shea, they shed light on the more unsavory characteristics of the this “Uncle Walt” and gives a glimpse into behind the scenes of some of his best and brightest ideas.

Disney Press - Meghan Stanton, Eric Poch, Paul Diem, Mohammad R. Suaidi 2

(l-r) Meghan Stanton, Eric Poch, Paul Diem, Mohammad R. Suaidi. Credit: Britt Olsen-Ecker


Don’t let the title fool you. This piece is not just a reading but a play about a reading of an unproduced screenplay. Actually, it’s kind of clever. The screenplay being read is supposedly one written by Walt Disney himself, about himself, and includes background information during various points of interest in his life that the public may not have been privy to. If its point was to make Walt Disney look like a completely self-centered asshole who did what he needed to see out his visions and dreams, no matter what it was he had to do or say or who he had to hurt, this piece was totally successful. My question is… why?
I’m not a total fanatic when it comes to Disney. I enjoy the films, the music, the theme parks, all that… but I’m not going out of my way for them. However, with that being said, I’m curious as to why this piece was written. Was it simply to mar a man’s name? To shatter an image? To break the magic his name has brought to the aforementioned millions upon millions of people who live and breathe anything Disney and soak up it creates? If so, why? What’s the point? What’s more, the man isn’t even around to defend himself. Why try to destroy the legacy of man who has brought happiness to the world? One argument could be because bringing that happiness brought pain and strife to others. I don’t deny that. It probably did, or so says Lucas Hnath in this script. But, please, show me a man as successful as Disney who built an empire being the nice guy all the time. Is it right? I won’t tell you what’s right or wrong, that’s for you to decide for yourself, but is it a necessary evil when trying to attain the success Disney wanted? Yes. The material in this piece seems one sided and bitter and doesn’t seem to tell the story for enlightenment, but, for reasons only known to the author, for spite and “sticking it to the man,” as it were. That’s how I see it, anyway.
Disney Press - Mohammad R. Suaidi, Paul Diem

Mohammad R. Suaidi, Paul Diem. Credit: Britt Olsen-Ecker


But I digress… I’ll step off my soapbox and get into the production itself, which is actually a very well-put together production. I could have done without the production of getting from the lobby to my seat, going through a dark, tight corridor with LED icicles that, I assume, is supposed to represent some kind of theme park or carnival attraction, then the clog at the performance space entrance because we had to stop to be seated personally by “Mr. Disney” with this Cheshire cat smile. When it’s general seating, I like to get from the lobby to my seat (which I like to choose) as quickly and efficiently as possible.
One major problem with this piece is the script. I am actually a fan of Lucas Hnath and it pains me to say, but this script is nothing but a jumble with incomplete sentences and cut offs. It’s hard to follow along and it continues through the ENTIRE piece. Luckily, this production of chock full of an able cast because the script is pretentious and trite being more show than substance.
Disney Press - Mohammad R. Suaidi, Meghan Stanton, Paul Diem

Mohammad r. Suaidi, Meghan Stanton, Paul Diem. Credit: Britt Olsen-Ecker


The space, however, is set up beautifully and that’s one of the things I really like about Single Carrot Theatre – their ability to change their space to fit the needs of the production. The tiered seating worked nicely for this production and the minimal Scenic Design by Kristin Hessenauer, Hayden Muller, Allison Blocechl, Cydney Cohn, and Sierra Ho is appropriate and effect, but I’m not sure why so many hands were involved in such a minimal Scenic Design… unless they are counting the seating arrangement and creepy entrance corridor, then maybe, but the simple cramped conference room setting is fitting and helps set the mood of this production.
Lighting Design by Helen Garcia-Alton and Sound Design by Glenn Ricci are impeccable and really help move this piece along. The changes from dim to full light are flawless and set the time and mood for each scene bringing the action together seamlessly. Garcia-Alton manages to capture the two sides of Walt Disney with both subtle and drastic changes in the lighting and keeps the audience engaged. Playing in tandem with the Lighting Design, Ricci’s Sound Design is careful not to overwhelm the production but blends in with the action to help tell the story and keep the action interesting.
Disney Press - Meghan Stanton, Eric Poch, Paul Diem, Mohammad R. Suaidi 1

(l-r) Meghan Stanton, Eric Poch, Paul Diem, Mohammad R. Suaidi. Credit: Britt Olsen-Ecker


Co-Directors Genevieve De Mahy and Matthew Shea have a good grasp of this material and seem to like the purpose of exposing the dark side of Disney and stripping away prestige of the name. The minimal staging is wise and the action is stellar. The fact that all characters, except for Walt Disney are handcuffed to the table as if being kept prisoner and forced to listen, is powerful and drives home the kind of person Walt Disney was in real life. Their casting is top notch and they convened a cast with great chemistry and talent to pull this material off. Overall, their vision and presentation are on point and they should be applauded for their efforts in bringing this challenging script to life.
Eric Poch takes on the role of Ron Miller, Disney’s son-in-law, who is a fan, or so it seems, and needs a job. Poch seems to really embody this character with a goofy smile and tone that fits the character nicely (a former pro football player). He plays the character as an oafish but lovable guy and makes a good showing working well with and off of his cast mates.
Disney Press - Meghan Stanton, Eric Poch, Paul Diem

(l-r) Meghan Stanton, Eric Poch, Paul Diem. Credit: Britt Olsen-Ecker


Mohammad R. Suaidi tackles the role of the level headed and loyal lesser known brother, Roy Disney. Suaidi seems to have a good grasp on this character and seems comfortable in the role. His chemistry with Paul Diem (Walt Disney) is terrific and they work well with each other. This character could easily be played as a doormat for the title character to walk over, but Suaidi finds a good balance of loyalty and standing his ground in this character that plays quite well.
Meghan Stanton as Daughter (assuming it’s Diane Disney, since Ron is her husband) is a definite highlight of this production. She doesn’t have much to say but every line she delivers is genuine and her confidence and presence is strong, which works well with this discontented character. Stanton emotes the conflicting emotions of this character such as her love and hatred for her less-than-saintly father and her worry for her children is clear making for an overall outstanding performance.
Disney Press - Paul Diem 3

Paul Diem as Walt Disney. Credit: Britt Olsen-Ecker


Paul Diem shines as he takes on the titular role of Walt Disney. From the moment he enters the lobby to direct the audience to the performance space, Diem embodies Disney head to toe, which is no small feat. Though the structure of this script is horrendous, he does a brilliant job with his delivery, not skipping a beat in the fast-paced jumble of words. Not only is his delivery good, he really seems to have a good understanding of the character and man his he portraying.
Final thought…  A Public Reading of an Unproduced Screenplay About The Death of Walt Disney at Single Carrot Theatre is an interesting take on the beloved Walt Disney and sheds light on a darker side of the man who brought the world so much happiness. I hesitantly write this, but… this was not my kind of show. Now, let me be clear that the performances were pretty much spot on and the ensemble presented the material superbly with focused and engaging staging, but the script is trite and garbled with all of the “cut to” and broken sentences making it difficult to understand (and utter agony for anyone with an English degree). I’m actually a fan of Lucas Hnath and thoroughly enjoyed another piece producer last year in Baltimore, The Christians, so I know he can write, but this one seems to be trying too hard. However, don’t take my word for it. Go see it and form your own opinion, it just might be your kind of show.
This is what I thought of Single Carrot Theatre’s production of A Public Reading of an Unproduced Screenplay About The Death of Walt Disney… What did you think? Please feel free to leave a comment!
A Public Reading of an Unproduced Screenplay About The Death of Walt Disney will play through February 25 at Single Carrot Theatre, 2600 North Howard Street, Baltimore, MD. For tickets, call the box office at 443-844-9253 or you can purchase them online.
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Press Release: Truth, power, and subversion take center stage in THE DEATH OF WALT DISNEY


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Baltimore, MD – Single Carrot Theatre’s 11th season continues with A Public Reading of an Unproduced Screenplay About the Death of Walt Disney. From Lucas Hnath, writer of The Christians and the Tony-award-winning A Doll’s House Part 2, The Death of Walt Disney takes audiences deep inside the dark heart of the Disney machine. Far from the sanitized history presented by the Walt Disney Company, Hnath’s portrait of the megalomaniac behind the magic is a sharp and blackly comic look at one man’s quest for immortality. As the lines of fantasy and reality blur in this dramatic retelling, dramaturg Abigail Cady has worked closely with directors Genevieve de Mahy and Matthew Shea to navigate the murky waters of Walt Disney’s life.
“A dramaturg is responsible for helping the production artists maintain the integrity of the world of the play,” said Cady. “For this play, that is a very particular world.” Cady, de Mahy, and Shea met constantly throughout the process, sorting through truths and embellishments that permeate the many layers of Hnath’s script.
In today’s climate of ‘fake news’ and ‘alternative facts’ Hnath’s script feels especially relevant, though the heightened circumstances of the theatre feel “less subversive” in a world that is “more surreal every day.” Cady, well-versed in sorting fact and fiction, adds that “the essential truth of a story told in the theatre always has been and will continue to be an emotional, human truth.” ‘Truth’ is a subjective and slippery target in the theatre, as it is in history. Modern audiences must constantly examine the sources and storytellers who shape their understanding of the world. History, after all, is written by the victor.
The same can be said for the ‘history’ of the Walt Disney Company. “It was very difficult to find sources that did not skew towards positive or negative portrayals of the man,” Cady remarked, adding that “most official documents” are held by the Disney Company; accessing them is virtually impossible. “Biographies are either sanitized or dubiously sourced.”
Modern conversations about men, power, and controlling the flow of information feel especially prescient alongside Hnath’s script. For Cady, Walt Disney is a familiar figure; the ‘Great Man of Genius’ who has cast “a long shadow over our cultural consciousness since the country’s founding.” Be it Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, or Walt himself, “The Death of Walt Disney grapples with the question of how to reconcile a person’s contributions to the world with the damage they’ve done to it.” While Hnath may not have all the answers, audiences are given a window into the real, complex world of ‘Great Men’ like Walt Disney.
The Death of Walt Disney opens February 2, with performance continuing through February 25. The cast features ensemble members Paul Diem (Walt Disney) and Meghan Stanton (Daughter) alongside guest artists Eric Poch (Ron Miller) and Mohammad R. Suaidi (Roy Disney).
About the Play:
A Public Reading of an Unproduced Screenplay about
THE DEATH OF WALT DISNEY
By Lucas Hnath
Directed by Genevieve de Mahy & Matthew Shea
Leave the magic behind in this darkly humorous, cutting examination of the megalomaniac who shaped a thousand childhoods: Mr. Walt Disney. The carefree and charming creator of so many beloved characters – father-figure to a generation of Americans – fades away as this fraught and fast-paced play chases down the dark heart of the Disney machine. Power, betrayal, deception, and disillusionment weave together to form a portrait of a man so full of hubris and obsessed with his own legacy, he tried to remake the world and achieve immortality. Join us at the table. Regional premiere.
WHEN:
Pay-What-You-Can Previews: Wednesday, January 31 and Thursday, February 1 at 8pm
Running: February 2 – 25
Thursday- Saturday at 8pm
Sundays at 3pm
*There is no performance on Sunday, February 4.
WHERE:
Single Carrot Theatre
2600 N. Howard Street
Baltimore, MD 21218
Entrance on 26th Street.
Free parking available in adjacent lot and on the street.
TICKETS AND ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
Tickets: $10-$29
Web: singlecarrot.com
Phone: 443-844-9253
Email: boxoffice(at)singlecarrot.com
Twitter: @singlecarrot
Instagram: @singlecarrot

PRESS RELEASE: Single Carrot Theatre kicks off Season 11 with Lear

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Single Carrot Theatre kicks off Season 11 with Lear
Baltimore, MD – Single Carrot Theatre’s 11th season begins with an outrageously original
take on a familiar story: Lear by Young Jean Lee. This adaptation of Shakespeare’s text
shuffles the titular king into the wings, allowing a younger generation to step into the
spotlight. With modern language, classical characters, music, dance, and fantastic violence, Lee crafts a masterful portrait of parents, children, and the exchange of power.
Young Jean Lee is an acclaimed writer and director whose work has been performed
worldwide – including at Single Carrot Theatre, where Lee’s Church was produced as part of the company’s 5th season. Lee will make her Broadway debut in 2018 with Straight White Men; she will be the first Asian-American woman in history to see her work produced on Broadway.
Lear will be directed by Andrew Peters, and feature Ensemble Member Paul Diem
alongside four other local actors. Final casting decisions will be announced in the coming
week.
Lear
By Young Jean Lee
Directed by Andrew Peters
Shakespearean drama meets millennial self-indulgence in this outlandish and driving take on King Lear. Boring, stuffy parents have been left for dead – consigning audiences to the not-so-tender mercies of a younger generation, a mix of heroes and villains indulging their own selfish whims. Despite sharp wits and sharper teeth, these Kardashian-esque kids are comically shallow, callous, and vain: more concerned with dancing and drama than their own doomed parents. But superficial pleasures can only reign for so long before their conscience catches up with them, unearthing ugly secrets, doubts, and fears. Regional premiere.
WHEN:
Previews: Wednesday, October 4 and Thursday, October 5 at 8pm
Running: October 6 – 29
Thursday- Saturday at 8pm
Sundays at 3pm
WHERE:
Single Carrot Theatre
2600 N. Howard Street
Baltimore, MD 21218
Entrance on 26th Street.
Free parking available in adjacent lot and on the street.
TICKETS AND ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
Tickets: $10-$29
Web: singlecarrot.com
Phone: 443-844-9253
Email: boxoffice@singlecarrot.com
Twitter: @singlecarrot
Instagram: @singlecarrot

Review: A Short Reunion at Single Carrot Theatre

By Jason Crawford Samios-Uy

Running Time: 2 hours and 30 minutes with no intermission
Baltimore is full of quirkiness… there’s no way around it. However, it’s also filled with a certain charm that earns it the Charm City nickname. Adding to all this quirkiness and charm, independent theatres have been popping up all over the place and trying new things, stepping out of the traditional theatre experience and contributing to the overall personality of the city. Some have been around for a few years, ten to be exact, and Single Carrot Theatre’s latest offering, A Short Reunion, Directed by various Single Carrot folks, of past and present, and Written by various authors is a new, creative presentation of short plays that takes the audience on a little field trip through Remington, a little corner of Baltimore, and proudly puts the city’s quirkiness and charm on display for an evening of blending the older (original) Single Carrot Theatre with the new.
The evening started out by congregating outside of Single Carrot theatre and breaking up into groups with tour guides and I had the pleasure of being in cute-as-a-button Brian Gilbert’s group and after a few brief comments giving us the ground rules of the “tour”, we were off… all the way over to Parts & Labor Restaurant, which was about 20 paces. Whew! The agony! Once there, the performances hit the ground running with 36 Questions or Emily & Sanders by Adam Szymkowicz, Directed by the current Single Carrot Theatre Ensemble. It’s a cute, relatable piece about a couple, Emily and Sanders, on a first date, trying to break through the awkwardness when they finally decide to play a “game” where they have to get through 36 questions they’ve found on the Internet. This piece is a great way to start off the evening, though, outside of a traditional theatre setting, the performances seem a bit scripted and unnatural, but the text and story are authentic and entertaining.

Paul Diem and Ben Kleymeyer in Grand Mal. Credit: Single Carrot Theatre


Next, cute Brian guides us down the street a few blocks, all the while keeping us engaged with questions and anecdotes relating to the piece or personal stories, to Church of the Guardian Angel where, after climbing a flight of narrow, old stairs, the audience is escorted into the sanctuary where we experience Grand Mal by Shawn Reddy, Directed by Brendan Ragan, dealing with a funeral and the dead man’s son or… sons? The material covers some existential topics such as time and space and, well, traveling through time and space and might be a bit predictable, but is enjoyable none the less.

Jessica Moose Garrett and Elliott Rauh in The Ninth Planet. Credit: Single Carrot Theatre


Leaving the church, we trek down to a corner spot where The Ninth Planet by Olivia Dufault, Directed by Lauren A. Saunders starts its performances right there on the sidewalk. Performed beautifully by Alix Fenhagen, Jessica Moose Garrett, and Elliott Rauh, this piece tells the tale of an exceedingly bright young woman who ventures off to find a better place and something new while, at home, she doesn’t apply herself in school and is stuck in a crazy situation with a single alcoholic dad. It takes a moment to “get” the piece, but the actors are committed and the space is very intimate, automatically immersing the audience.

Rohaizad Suaidi and Lauren Erica Jackson in Tense White People Have Dinner. Credit: Single Carrot Theatre


From there, the evening takes us to the Young Audiences offices for Tense White People Have Dinner by Jen Silverman, Directed by Dustin C.T. Morris. This funny piece takes us through a dinner party, of sorts, with two sisters who have very different relationships with their gentlemen. With eyeballs falling out and revelations being made, this piece is serious, yet funny with commendable performances, though Rohaizad Suaidi seemed rather scripted and over-animated, he still gives a committed performances to match the wonderful performances from Meghan Stanton, Matt Shea, and Lauren Erica Jackson. By the way, The Young Audiences offices is a great time to take a restroom break, should you need it!

Meg Jabaily and Nathan Fulton in Bruce/Brenda/David. Credit: Single Carrot Theatre


Bruce/Brenda/David by J. Buck Jabaily and Nathan Fulton (with Aldo Pantoja and Meg Jabaily), Directed by J. Buck Jabaily is next on the tour, with cute Brain guiding a few steps away from the Young Audiences offices to right in front of Single Carrot Theatre and this piece, based on true events, is definitely a highlight of the evening. Simple and performed impeccably by Aldo Pantoja, Nathan Fulton, and Meg Jabaily, this piece gives us insight into a hermaphroditic young person and a scrupulous, but respected Johns Hopkins doctor and events leading the sad ending of a person named Bruce, then Brenda, then David. It is a poignant, important piece that promotes all kinds of feels.
At this point, we’re back to Emily & Sanders (from 36 Questions or Emily & Sanders) to check in and see how they were doing on their first date and they’ve gotten through most of the questions and seem to make a connection. At this point, we also lose cute Brian as a guide in a very over-the top, absolutely scripted (I hope it’s intended to be) hullabaloo between Brian and Ben Kleymeyer, who could pull back the acting a bit, if authenticity is the objective, and Brian is “fired” or “quits” in a huff, leaving Ben to guide us to our next destination.
This time, we join forces with another group and are back to Church of the Guardian Angel and we are guided upstairs to a space that had a past life as a small gymnasium to experience Live Through This by Caridad Svich, Directed by Genevieve De Mahy. I’m going to admit it. Someone is going to have to explain the purpose of this piece to me. In a nutshell, it was like an art installment of various points of history with a piece of hanging art in the middle of the room that theatre-goers could participate in its creation by pouring paint onto it. A disembodied voice blares out of a single speaker on one side of the room with ambient music backing him up. Everyone is so busy reading the descriptions of the exhibits, hardly anyone pays attention to the voice or what he is saying, so, this one might want to be thought through a bit more. Aside from the distractions from the text, the piece just doesn’t make much sense to me, but it could be my fault… Maybe I should have concentrated more on the disembodied voice?

Dustin C.T. Morris and Elliott Rauh in Itch So Bad. Credit: Single Carrot Theatre


After scratching my head from Live Through This, we are walked down the street to the Miller’s Court Building where we are treated to Itch So Bad by Joshua Conkel, Directed by Ben Klemeyer. This piece is hilarious, performed bravely and confidently by committed, eventually scantily clad actors Elliott Rauh and Dustin C.T. Morris. Poking fun at promiscuity and the risks that go along with such a blithe attitude toward sex, this piece (which is set up more traditionally with seats to take a load off) is another highlight of the evening adding a rag-tag live band of “Scabies” to help the story along with familiar songs that add an extra bit of humor to the already funny piece.

Genevieve De Mahy and Alix Fenhagen in One More Time. Credit: Single Carrot Theatre


The night begins to wind down in a garage/workshop across the street from Single Carrot Theatre with One More Time by Eric Coble, Directed by Brendan Ragan and this short piece, told completely through action, with one solitary word of dialogue, is practically silent but powerful. The actresses, Genevieve De Mahy and Alix Fenhagen are brilliant and exude so much emotion without speaking, it truly is a credit to their acting chops. The story tells of a reunion of sorts where both parties seems to have different ideas of what they want out of it and these actresses portray those feelings flawlessly.

Paul Diem in The Therapist. Credit: Single Carrot Theatre


Ending the evening in the same garage/workshop The Therapist by Charles Mee, Directed by Genevieve De Mahy and, the ending of One More Time seamlessly slides into this piece. The garage door is raised and the rest of the ensemble from all the other pieces are standing there like Walkers from The Walking Dead and they rush in to envelope the audience with a speech performed enthusiastically by Paul Diem about the state of the arts and about artists in general. His charisma is spot on for this piece, even as he’s stripping down to his unmentionables! The audience is given little flags and other accouterments as Diem leads them out of the garage and down the street as if it is a march for art, ending at Single Carrot Theatre, coming around full circle.
All in all, it was an enjoyable evening and more like a leisurely stroll through Remington with the bonus of catching some theatre while out for a walk. The ensemble knows the materials and, more importantly understands the material and it all makes for a great night of Baltimore theatre.
Final thought… A Short Reunion presented by Single Carrot Theatre is a bold, innovative piece that the traditional theatre-goer might find a bit taxing, but it has a very personable feel and gives one a chance to explore the little corner of Baltimore where Single Carrot calls home – Remington. Roughly a mile walk, keep an eye on the weather and dress accordingly… you know how Maryland can get all bi-polar with its weather! Also, just as a note, if you have any disability that makes it difficult for stairs, unless Single Carrot has made arrangements for any foreseeable situation, there will be an issue in seeing a few of the performances because of stairs. You might want to give them a call ahead of time if you have any questions. Overall, the performance is quite enjoyable (and I got to experience it during a beautiful spring evening) and exudes the charm and quirkiness with which Baltimore drips. The tour is well-designed and thought out so there’s no unnecessary detours and though I may enjoyed certain performances more than others, I enjoyed all of them, as a whole. It’s called A Short Reunion but it’s also a short run so if you want a different kind of theatre-going experience; something new and quirky… and quite enjoyable… get your tickets now!
Short plays included in A Short Reunion:
36 Questions or Emily & Sanders by Adam Szymkowicz
The Ninth Planet by Olivia Dufault
Tense White People Have Dinner by Jen Silverman
Grand Mal by Shawn Reddy
Bruce/Brenda/David by J. Buck Jabaily & Nathan Fulton (with Aldo Pantoja and Meg Jabaily)
Itch So Bad by Joshua Conkel
Live Through This by Caridad Svich
One More Time by Eric Coble
The Therapist by Charles Mee
This is what I thought of Single Carrot Theatre’s production of A Short Reunion… What did you think? Please feel free to leave a comment!
A Short Reunion will play through April 30 at Single Carrot Theatre, 2600 N. Howard Street, Baltimore, MD. For tickets, call the box office at (443) 844-9253 or purchase them online.
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Review: Samsara at Single Carrot Theatre

By Jason Crawford Samios-Uy
samsaramain
Running Time: 90 minutes with no intermission
Birth – Life – Death… That’s pretty much what Samsara means: We’re born – We live – We die. It’s what happens along that journey is what’s different for everyone and even the start is starting and ending is different. Single Carrot Theatre’s latest offering, Samsara by Lauren Yee, directed by Lauren A. Saunders, with Scenic Design by Jason Randolph, Lighting Design by Thomas P. Gardner, and Sound Design by Steven Kriegle, gives a thought provoking look into what it takes to bring a child into this world, even when it’s not your body your using. It delves into the intricacies of having a surrogate half way across the world and imagines the unknowns of unborn children who sometimes have more common sense than grown adults. It puts human faces on surrogacy and tells a story from both sides of a surrogate pregnancy.
The space at Single Carrot Theatre is intimate and they use the space wisely. From what I understand, the seating chart changes depending on the production and this set up for Samsara gives us a wide stage with room for Jason Randolph’s simple, but impressive Set Design. His use of movable blocks saves space and lends itself to multiple locations, not giving exact detail, but enough for the audience to know where they are. The curves in both the set and the hanging screen gives a whimsical, magical feel and the projections are spot on. Overall, the production value of this piece knocks it out of the ballpark. Set Design, Lighting Design, and Sound Design are worth the admission price alone.
Speaking of Lighting Design, Thomas P. Gardner does a superb job lighting this magical, fanciful piece with just the correct colors and levels, setting the mood for each scene and moving the story line along nicely. Along with Gardner’s work, Steven Kriegle’s Sound Design is on point. Every bit of recorded sound that comes out of the speakers is befitting and well placed. Whether it was Kriegle himself or a collaboration with the director, the music choices are spot on the Sound Design, as a whole, is impeccable.
Taking the helm of this production, Director Lauren A. Saunders does a fantastic job putting this piece on the stage. Her casting is outstanding and her staging is minimal and fanciful, but gives the audience enough to keep up with the complex story. She understands the script, the delicacy of the piece, and the intimate space and presents the story in an accessible way as to not overwhelm the audience but bring them along for the journey. Her understanding and handling of the piece makes for a very enjoyable evening of theatre.
The small ensemble of Samsara puts on an impressive show and the chemistry, for the most part, is clear and these actors are comfortable with each other which makes it easier for the audience to follow along and get engrossed in the touching story their telling.

Utkarsh Rajawat as Amit, Paul Diem as Craig, and Saraniya Tharmarajah as Suraiya. Credit: Single Carrot Theatre

Utkarsh Rajawat as Amit, Paul Diem as Craig, and Saraniya Tharmarajah as Suraiya. Credit: Single Carrot Theatre


Single Carrot Ensemble members, Paul Diem and Alix Fenhagen take on the roles of Craig, the kind good-hearted father sent off a half a world away on his own and Katie, the wife and childless mother who, because of her own issues, would not travel with her husband a half world away to experience the birth of their child. Diem and Fenhagen played these roles to the hilt and I can feel the unspoken tension between the characters as they are trying to navigate through a rocky marriage with the difficulty of not being able to have children. It is revealed that neither of them able to produce and that’s where the Indian surrogate comes into play. Why India, you may ask? Well, it’s simply financial and an Indian surrogate is actually much cheaper… thousands of dollars cheaper than an good old American surrogate. The question is, are both of these people ready for a child? Also, to add to the drama, these two characters seem to differ on their ideas of what a surrogate is and how much involvement one should have in a surrogate’s life, making for some pretty intense drama between these two characters.
Diem has a complete handle on this character and is confident in this role. His uncertainty is unmistakable and his kindness shines through making him a very likable character. The character of Craig might be a bit annoying at times, making unwise choices while in India, but Paul Diem gives an admirable performance having great chemistry with both Fenhagen and Saraniya Tharmarajah. Alix Fenhagen also gives a good performance, but seems a bit flat and monotone, in parts where I would prefer little more emotion, but she seems to be playing it subtly and gives a commendable performance.
Dustin C. T. Morris, as the imaginary Frenchman and sub-sequential “dream man” of Katie, is a bit of comic relief and he is 100% to this role. He also takes on the role of the doctor caring for the surrogate in India and he shines in this role, as well. As an imaginary character, he manages to move the story along, giving a backstory to Katie and her ideas of what she wants her child (and perhaps her life) to be as well as the possibilities that frighten her. Morris is radiant and confident and gives a praiseworthy performance.
Saraniya Tharmarajah as Suraiya and Utkarsh Rajawat as Amit. Credit: Single Carrot Theatre

Saraniya Tharmarajah as Suraiya and Utkarsh Rajawat as Amit. Credit: Single Carrot Theatre


At the heart of this story is Suraiya, the surrogate for Craig and Katie played masterfully by Saraniya Tharmarajah, whose performance is one of the highlights of this production. She is natural and comfortable in this role and her delicate performance is befitting of this character. Tharmarajah manages to bring forth a silent strength in her character and her chemistry with Rajawat, the unborn Amit, is charming and heart-warming. Kudos to Tharmarajah for her superb performance in this piece.
Speaking Utkarsh Rajawat, he is another highlight of this production as he tackles the role of Amit, the unborn child for whom everyone is waiting patiently. Rajawat’s performance is both charming and poignant as his character is in the mind of the surrogate and he is inquisitive and in awe of everything as he talks with her. Not having been jaded by the world just yet, this character seems to have the only common sense in the group and he has some of the funniest lines in the piece and handles the comedy and comedic timing beautifully. He masterfully plays this character as a doe-eyed child, wanting to learn everything he can about the world he is about to enter and Rajawat’s lovable portrayal makes it hard to feel anything but good, warm, and gooey things for this character. Kudos goes to both Tharmarajah and Rajawat for jobs well done.
Final thought…Samsara is an interesting look into surrogacy and relationships of surrogacy, touching on the deep and intense thoughts and feelings of all parties involved that aren’t always discussed at the dinner table. Single Carrot Theatre’s production is an approachable and accessible expression of those unsaid thoughts and feelings, giving the audience an insight only parents and a surrogate mother can have. This well-put, thought-provoking production should not be missed this season.
This is what I thought of Single Carrot Theatre’s production of Samsara… What did you think? Please feel free to leave a comment!
Samsara will play through February 12 at Single Carrot Theatre, 2600 North Howard Street, Baltimore, MD. For Tickets, call the box office at 443-844-9253 or purchase them online.
Email us at backstagebaltimore@gmail.com
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