Without a Parachute

By Laura Toffenettiparachutelogo

Directed by Steven Pringle

Produced by Pasta Fazool Players at Stage One Theatre, Des Plasines, IL

Family produced new work not ready for prime time

I’m all for a family working together to produce art–or in this case– theatre. However, when the play is written by one member with another directing and the children cast, there is the potential for the project to turn into a vanity project devoid of artistic merit. That could be the case with Pasta Fazool Players’ Without a Parachute. I believe that there needs to be outside, independent director or producer to state what works and what doesn’t. When the heads of the family are the writer and director–who is to tell them the obvious problems with the play? I guess I get that unpleasant chore.

Without a Parachute suffers from several flaws:  The work has a uneven mood–is it a romance or a drama or a comedy? The main character–Cory (Joanne Dubach) is an unlikable, anger-ridden woman with whom we never warm up to so we couldn’t care what happens to her. The opening scene that finds her getting ready to shot herself has no emotional basis and Dubach’s deer-in-the-headlight acting does little to enhance her character’s angst.

Next, Phil (Dan Pringle)–Cory’s guarding angel or imaginary friend emerges to save her from herself. Pringle is a fine actor but he plays his character as a goofy guy with powers. Ha? We never see enough tension between Cory and Phil–a necessary element.

Next, Cory’s ex–Simon (Jed Reynolds) and his new bride–Nancy (Monica Szaflik) play their characters like cartoon caricatures. Reynolds is silly while Szafik has the screechy voice that simply irritates.  These two are not funny.

The plot depends on physical comedy, lame wordplay and stock situations that was more wacky than funny. If we don’t like the heroine and her ‘friend’ doesn’t take over–we have little to do but wait for the show to end. The cast was sub-pare with only Dan Pringle with enough acting chops to be worthy of being cast. An independent director could possibly (with major re-writes)  make this play work. As it plays now–don’t bother–it is not ready for an audience.

Not Recommended

Tom Williams

At Stage One Theatre, 620 Lee Street, Des Plaines, IL, 800-838-3006. www.pastafazoolplayers.com,  Thursday thru Sunday at 7:30 pm, running time is 1 hour 50 minutes with intermission, through August 16, 2009