Thursday, September 27, 2018

Quality performances make “Plath & Orion” interesting evening @ Cesear’s Forum

Cesar’s Forum, which might be thought of as the little theater company “that could and can,” is at it again. The organization, which is a financial and one-man adventure has won both Cleveland Critics Circle and Broadway World Theatre Tribute recognitions for past performances. 

The theater usually presents challenging scripts which have small casts and require little or no sets.   Artistic director Greg Cesear has followed this pattern again with his pairing two one-act plays into an evening of interest.

“Plath & Orion, Two One-Act Plays” is composed of Pulitzer Prize winning Lanford Wilson’s “The Great Nebula in Orion” and Cesear’s self-written “Plath, Sexton and the Art of Confession.”

Wilson, a Missouri native, was noted as one of the significant theater writers of the 20th century. “He was one of the first playwrights to move from Off-Off-Broadway, to Off-Broadway, then to Broadway and beyond.”  His plays are commonly done by community theaters. 

The Wilson script centers on an unscheduled afternoon social interaction between two women who were close college friends but have not seen each other for seven years.

Louise (Rachel Lee Kolis) is a successful fashion designer.  Carrie (Amiee Collier), is a former activist who married into wealth and is now a Boston area socialite. 

Louise, who is single, lives the life of a childless, Manhattan career woman, while Carrie does “all the right things” for a woman of her status—bridge, clubs, and mothering two children. 

Both seem discontent as talk about former loves and college friends as they consume a large quantity of brandy at Louise’s Park Avenue apartment. 

This is a character, rather than a plot centered script.  It is well written and gives each actress a chance to show off her talent.  And talent is abundant with these two fine actresses.  Their characters are well-developed, with each performance completely realistic.

The second act, Greg Cesear’s “Plath, Sexton and the Art of Confession,” features Mary Alice Beck as M.A. and Julia Kolibab as Jane.  

The duo is attending a scholastic conference.  They exchange ideas, which mainly center on the works of Pulitzer Prize winning poets, Sylvia Plath and Anne Sexton, who furthered the literary genre known as Confessional poetry.  

The conversation between MA and Jane parallel the experience that Plath and Sexton had when they met at a seminar and their career work, combined with personal rivalry and affinity, caused them to be linked together.

The play presents such observations as, “To judge a poem you have understand it,” “image reflects image,” and the challenging concept of “What is art worth?”.  It is an academic course in poetry, poets and Platt and Sexton.

As in the first act, the performances are excellent.

“The plays are companion pieces designed for audiences to focus on and identify with the character-driven narratives through inventive storytelling.” In both, “the women address their thoughts and comments directly to the audience, as well as to each other.  Poignant, cutting, funny and poetic, their telling conversations reveal individual boundaries of hope and reality.”

Capsule judgement:  Though some may find the show, especially the second act, obtuse and overly intellectual, Cesear’s Forum again displays that it doesn’t take a big budget, massive sets and ornate costumes to present effective theater, in this case, its exceptional performances.

“Plath & Orion, Two One-Act Plays” runs Friday and Saturday through October 27, 2018 @ 8 as well as Sunday, October 7 and 14 @ 3 in Kennedy’s Down Under.  Enter through the Ohio Theatre lobby and go down the steps to the theatre.  For tickets call 216-241-6000 or go to