THE WORLD WILL STOP IF WE MAKE A MISTAKE
New Vintage Productions, Scranton, PA
Review by Yoli
Newcomers and locals alike had the opportunity to walk, shop, and dine on the Commons during the fourth annual Ithaca Fringe Festival of theatre and film, thanks to its producing artistic director, George Sapio, his tiny staff, and many volunteers.
The acts were performed in different downtown venues. The History Center in Tompkins County, located at the east end of the Commons, was a perfect setting for one of these festival plays (as it was for last year’s all-ages vaudeville offering).
The World Will Stop If We Make a Mistake, written by Sarah Stachura Regan and produced by New Vintage Ensemble of Northeastern Pennsylvania, was skillfully directed by Brendan Regan. The 50-minute one-act play integrated different mediums to tell the story of two friends, now in their mid-30s, who have come together once again.
The two main characters—Judy, performed with emotional gusto by Stachura Regan, and Zack, performed with simplicity (and the appeal of wanting him to be your friend too) by Timothy McDermott—had been childhood best friends, but were separated when their two families moved to different locations. Now Judy’s father has passed away, and Zach has come back to be with her.
This plot, however, is not how the play begins. The play opens with the amusing use of huggable puppets. The sun puppet (Sunny) and the cloud puppet (Cloudy) rise from behind a projection screen, center stage. They’ve got playful individual personalities but can be at odds with each other at times. After all, the sun doesn’t shine on us every day.
Sunny and Cloudy are played with wonderfully light, humorous, and expressive voices by the same two actors playing Judy and Zack. The projection screen that hides the actors is used intermittently throughout the play as simple comic-strip graphics are shown illustrating Judy and Zack’s history since youth.
The play is advertised to be for “everyone.” It is, in the sense that each medium—live action, puppetry, and stop-action film—delivers the same theme and story, but then each medium also appeals to a different age group. I might have preferred more of a blend, a weave of the three elements to keep my interest. But then, perhaps the playwright chose to use the distinctive methods to spark “family ’round the dinner table” discussion of some of the more mature themes of friendship, loss, and love. It worked.
Reviewer Yoli is a producer, director, playwright, and young-adult novelist.