Sunday, November 11, 2012

Alliance Theatre Lab: roomies (reviews)

The Alliance Theatre Lab opened its production of Mark Della Ventura's roomies on November 9, 2012.
The Alliance Theatre Lab concludes its season of new works with the comic – drama Roomies by Mark Della Ventura.

Put five 20-somethings, who all just graduated from a four year acting conservatory, in a two bedroom apartment. Now have one of those 20-somethings trying to write a play, documenting their lives in this apartment.
Adalberto J. Acevedo directed a cast that featured Mark Della Ventura, David Michael Sirois, Gabe Hammad, Anne Chamberlain, and Ashley Price.

Christine Dolen reviewed for The Miami Herald:
Della Ventura’s writing in roomies is breezy, raucous and unapologetically raunchy... F-bombs and the b-word abound. In roomies, to denigrate is to demonstrate affection.
... roomies is an insightful portrait of people in their 20s trying to sort out work and love. The 90-minute play is layered with secrets: a hookup that is turning into more, unrequited affection, Andy’s dangerous solution to his writer’s block.
Set designer Jodi Dellaventura (the playwright’s sister, though she links the two parts of the family’s last name), sound designer Howard Ferré, lighting designer Natalie Taveras and costume coordinator Della Ventura (he’s no slacker either) create a cozy world for five aspiring artists with little money but lots of talent and ambition. And all five actors give rich, fine performances – Chamberlain as the emotionally vulnerable Liz, Sirois as the cocky Jake, Hammad as career-ascendant Gabe, Price as the conflicted Michelle and Della Ventura as the almost affectless, conniving Andy.

Would roomies be just as effective if lots of the gross-out stuff were excised? Most likely. It’s not the cheap laughs that come from bawdy dialogue and nasty words that make roomies worth checking out. Della Ventura’s intriguing characters, plot twists and resonant story are what could give roomies a longer life.
Bill Hirschman reviewed for Florida Theater On Stage:
Between Della Ventura’s brilliantly observed dialogue and Adalberto J. Acevedo’s direction, roomies has an eavesdropping feel to its verisimilitude with repartee that only comes from people who have spent so much time together that they know each other’s catchphrases.
Della Ventura also has a talent for one-liners and smart retorts which he showed off in his one-man play earlier this season, Small Membership. He also delivers illuminating moments that transcend demographics, especially as people reach out gingerly to connect despite a reliance on such blunted tools as everyday language.
The acting is something sui generis. It’s almost impossible to describe what they do and how they do it. The roles are so tailored to the actors’ individualized strengths and personalities that the performers slip the characters on like a second skin. It’s not that you forget you’re watching a play, but the cast’s well-oiled by-play, their camaraderie, their connections are depicted with fine-grained, intricate and seamless brushstrokes. They are so convincing that you wonder whether the playwright is reporting rather than creating. Carbonell Awards judges have a persistent problem trying to identify what defines ensemble acting. This is it. So it’s unfair but unavoidable to single out Sirois’ quirky and unique line readings or Chamberlain’s earnest, winning charm.
roomies marks the end of Alliance’s season devoted to original
works by company members Della Ventura and Sirois. But perhaps more
important, Alliance – along with The Naked Stage, Mad Cat, Thinking Cap
Theatre and a few others – has committed themselves to the future of
theater in South Florida. roomies proves it deserves encouragement.
Roger Martin reviewed for miamiartzine:
I can guarantee you one thing when you see a play written by Mark Della Ventura: you'll get the truth, feelings be damned.   He's a disarming man, but he writes with a knife. No pussy footing here.  No genteel euphemisms; just foul hilarity, surprising tenderness and ultimate cynicism.
All five do well on Alliance's small stage, but Della Ventura and Sirois purely delight with their comic timing, throw away line readings and the quietness of their work.
Adalberto Acevedo gives the impression of being an almost non-director. His signature is the ease with which his casts perform. There's an air of improv on his stages, no one acts, it's all natural and that's just good.
The Alliance Theatre Lab production of roomies plays at the Main Street Playhouse through November 25, 2012.

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