Weekly Wire
Weekly Alibi Headed In the Right Direction

By Julie Birnbaum

JULY 28, 1997:  If theater's true spirit lies in the cooperation between people of different ages and backgrounds, thrown together solely by a love of drama to create a work of art, that spirit lives at the Adobe Theater. Durang/Durang, a series of six short works by Christopher Durang, is part of the volunteer-run Adobe Theater's Young Directors Project, which brings together high school students and adults in a summer production.

Celeste Hernandez, Matt Gardner and Peter Lamphere, all high school seniors, directed two sketches each in Durang/Durang. The plays are self-conscious comedies, drawing much of their humor from their satire of art's pretensions. The three directors had the difficult task of taking on a sophisticated work while leading a cast older than they and putting on a production with the limited budget of a nonprofit organization. They pulled it off with style and imagination that far surpassed a high school level.

A relatively new American playwright, Durang's trademark campiness was evident in this collection. Characters in Durang/Durang didn't often transcend broad-brush caricatures--a coke-snorting, bulimic Hollywood agent; a rich, mirror-obsessed fading beauty--which made for a straightforward, "Saturday Night Live" type of satiric comedy. The corps of actors showed impressive flexibility, playing different characters throughout the show and giving some side-splitting performances.

The works ranged from "For Whom the Southern Belle Tolls," a parody of The Glass Menagerie, to "Wanda's Visit," the tale of a crazy ex-girlfriend's visit to a quietly married couple. Durang/Durang makes fun of the greed and affectations that are often present in drama. The Adobe's grassroots brand of theater is part of the opposition, a force that keeps art genuine.

Durang/Durang runs through July 27 at 9813 Fourth NW. Call 898-9222.




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