Curtain Rises: Players raise a magnifying glass to humor
Crowded Kitchen Players will present its first live production in more than a year.
The troupe presented “Dogcatcher” last fall, filmed in seven episodes for “Live from IceHouse Tonight.” It can be viewed online.
Crowded Kitchen Players’ new original comedy, “Corner Booth,” will be presented 8 p.m. June 4, 5, 11, 12 and 2 p.m. June 6 and 13, Charles A. Brown IceHouse, 56 River St., Bethlehem.
The play, about a group of crooked politicians, contractors, judges and lawyers who meet at happy hour each week, is written and directed by Ara Barlieb, founder with Pamela Wallace, of Crowded Kitchen Players.
“Corner Booth” is set in a small pub on the outskirts of a mid-size city in the Commonwealth where every Friday, the region’s corrupt power-brokers gather to drink and determine the fate of citizens who put them in power. However, rather than power suits, Barlieb chose to dress his cast as cruel and omnipotent Greek gods.
“’Corner Booth’ serves simply to illustrate that evil was invented by humans without any need of help from demons and without any hope of rescue by gods,” says Barlieb.
Ellie Snyder (Trish Cipoletti) is a county executive who settles into the corner booth at the bar to meet with political party boss, Molly Kessler (Pamlea Wallace).
Barlieb says Ellie represents the fiscally-conservative majority of the county she leads and is “notorious for her disdain toward public schools, reproductive rights, gay marriage, gun control and any kind of government-assistance programs.”
Molly is accompanied by her daughter Heather (Dawn Daignault), ”who has been in and out of rehab and has only avoided jail because of her mother’s influence.”
They are joined by a district attorney Carl Armstead (David Oswald), public defender Marsha Stevens (Melissa Dorflinger), common pleas judges Susan Marino (Sharon Ferry) and Ed Thompson (Bruce Brown), Tony Simonetti (Scott VanNortwick), developer of juvenile detention facilities.
Molly wants Ellie to run for higher office. Ellie has her eyes on the governor’s seat.
Things start to get out of hand when a group of angry parents, whose children have been arrested for small crimes and sentenced without due process, show up to confront the judges. Tempers erupt and charges are leveled as fights break out and the night begins to spiral drunkenly toward chaos.
Trying desperately to keep things under control is the hapless pub owner Todd (Brian Wendt).
Playing angry parents are Carla Hadley, Susan Burnett, Brian Mullaney and Chris Donahue.
Donald M. Swan Jr. and Billy Erlacher play police officers who arrive to break up the fight.
“Tragedy abounds, and so we laugh at it,” says Barlieb. “What else are we supposed to do?
“In ‘Corner Booth,’ the biggest tragedy is not that the events in the play are inspired by actual crimes and atrocities, but that they no longer surprise us.”
The language of the script is coarse and the subject matter is mature and often gritty.
The play features original music written and performed by Ron Palos, Greg Tocci, Sy Kipp and Tom Epstein.
Barlieb says Crowded Kitchen Players will follow the CDC guidelines for face-mask wearing and social distancing that apply at the time of performance. Seating is general admission.
Tickets: http://www.ckplayers.com/tickets; or at the door.
“Curtain Rises” is a column about the theater, stage shows, the actors in them and the directors and artists who make them happen. To request coverage, email: Paul Willistein, Focus editor, email@example.com