SALT LAKE CITY— One act plays don’t get a lot of respect in the real world. They seem to be the sort of things that are quaint to look at, but don’t really seem to carry much weight. I happen to love one-acts because you have to get the meat of the story out in a concise way. This past Friday and Saturday at The Hive Theatre Company three one-act plays by David Ives provided a humorous insight to language and society. This was a premier performance and fundraiser for the Hive, a new company from founders Jared and Tiffany Greathouse. And if this evening was any indication of future success, the future is very bright for the Hive.
As this was a fund raiser, the evening was not only about theater. There were also poetry readings, live music and stand-up comedy. Let me first address the one-acts. The evening was billed as “Word Play” and this theme fit the presentations quite well. The first one act was “Words, Word, Words” in which we see three monkeys involved in testing the hypothesis that three apes hitting keys at random for an infinite time will almost surely produce Hamlet. The chimpanzees all have their own quirks and mirror the different characters in Hamlet itself. In “The Philadelphia” two men find themselves in a café in New York where they discover that one of them has fallen into an alternate dimension called a “Philadelphia” where everything is opposite and the service is lousy. In the final act, “Variations on the Death of Trotsky,” Leon Trotsky is composing his next speech unaware that he has a mountaineering axe smashed into his skull.
The word play throughout these one-acts was a delight and, frankly, the highight of the evening. Shawn Saunders, Tiffany Greathouse and Jared Greathouse all did wonderfully in the ridiculous situations presented in the three one-acts. I think my favorite of the night was “The Philadelphia.” The way that the odd dynamics of the alternate reality worked and how the characters had to adapt in order to get what they wanted was brilliant. Ms. Greathouse was a standout as the surly waitress. Her sarcastic delivery of every line was the perfect foil to the other characters. And the dialogue delivery between her and Mr. Saunders was delivered crisply and rapidly and built up the perfect crescendo for the final payoff to the situation. I cannot say enough about how much I enjoyed this evening of one-acts. It was great from beginning to end.
The rest of the evening was a bit of a mixed bag. Everything fit with the theme of word play. Poetry readings from Karen Christensen provided a segue between the first two plays and was very delightful. I not exactly a fan of “poetry jam” style presentation. It always strikes me as a bit pretentious, like Mike Meyers in So I Married an Axe Murder. Ms. Christensen’s delivery was, thankfully, not that broad and her poetry had a bittersweet reminiscent quality to it, with a delightful use of language exploration of the real meanings of words. The second half of the evening brought us music by B, a member of Dos Dragones. His one man acoustic set was very enjoyable with an eclectic beat and rich, wordy lyrics. The final addition to the evening, the stand-up comedy of Jeremy Anderson was, unfortunately, my least favorite part of the evening. He had a few great jokes, but the routine was more of a series of unrelated setups for jokes that often had nothing to do with the setup. I also found it very off-putting that he hardly ever faced the audience. He was either facing stage left or stage right in full profile for 90% of his set. It was a little disconcerting to watch, and made him seem to be very self-conscious. There was one couple up front and a young lady to the right in the audience that seemed to enjoy him very much, so it may just have been me. With that one small reservation, however, this was a fantastic evening and it is too bad that the audience wasn’t bigger than it was. The Hive Theatre Company had a great inaugural production in Word Play and I look eagerly forward to future productions from this fantastic new company.