REVIEWSREVIEWS BYTheatre ReviewsTom Williams

The 27th Annual Chicago Young Playwrights Festival

2013 Winning Plays:ypf Red fixed_1

1. Senioritis

by Alexus Williams

Directed by Rachel Edwards Harvath

2. The  Diner

by Lauren Trifunovich

Directed by Ilusa Duncan

3. Fears For Fairytales

by Clare McKitterick

Directed by Lavina Jadhwani

Produced by Pegasus Theatre

At the National Pastime Theatre, Chicago

A glimpse into the minds of the next generation of playwrights a mixed bag

After skipping the last couple of years of the Annual Chicago Young Playwrights Festival, now in its 27th year, I was delighted to see what the today’s teens view of the world is in 2014. It turned into a mixed bag of theatre from a moralizing work to a chilling one to a comic one.

In the first YPF one-act: Senioritis, Alexus Williams demonstrates the trappings of both being a glamor-oriented female high school senior, Maya (Celeste M. Cooper) who doesn’t have time to visit her grandpa (JJ McCormick0 at his retirement home until she is force to by her mother. Maya initially resists and resents being marooned with a small group instead of hanging with her mates at the mall. She eventually, after being sent to the retirement home each Saturday, grows to like Grandpa’s mates. Black (Carl Herzog), Lori (Joy Valdez-Pappas) as she come to realize that appearances can be false. Maya learns valuable lessons about herself and old-folks. This is a heartwarming little morality tale.


The second YPF winning one-act is The Diner by Lauren Trifunovich directed by Ilesa Duncan.  Set in the 1960’s  (hint: the rooter payphone on the walk) in a small town diner, waitress Betty (Susan Myburgh)  is closing the diner alone as she races to get home to her child celebrating her birthday. After locking up the diner. Betty allows a mysterious man in to help him escape the cold and rain. The nervous man, John (Carl Herzog) and Betty quickly connect as each is a lost spirit with a checkered past. Tension builds as the rain and the news on the radio build into a fearful conclusion. The sparks between John and Betty nearly erupt I’ll not say more so as not to spoil this tightly drawn little work.


In the third one act YPF winning entry, Fears For Fairytales by Clare McKitterick directed by Lavina Jadhwani, we meet five poor souls at a group therapy session. Each of the fairytale characters are misunderstood and each have a fear they need to overcome. The witch Glinda (Susan Myburgh) moderates. Snow White (Celeste Cooper), Pinnocchio (Daniel Rosenstrauch, who almost steals this one-act), Big Bad Wolf (Carl Herzog in a killer costume), and Captain Hook (JJ MCCormiak) each have a phobia to overcome. Playwright Clare McKitterick has penned a clever and quit funny parody of both group therapy and the foibles of fairy tale characters. Despite some over -acting, this was the most entertaining and original work presented. This young lady has some talent?

FEARS_Celeste Cooper_Daniel Rosenstrauch_JJ McCormick_Carl Herzog

Kudos to Pegasus Theatre for keeping this vital developmental tool alive. It is important that we, as a community, continue to nurture new voices in theatre. The lessons learned by all 700 who took part in the YPF go far beyond the prize money and recognition. These plays are worth a look.


Tom Williams

At National Pastime Theatre, 941 W. Lawrence, Chicago, IL, call 773-878-8864, Fridays & Saturdays at 7:30 pm, running time is 1 hour, 50 minutes with intermission.

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