Writing/Directing


PLAYWRIGHTING

Full Moon and High Tide in the Ladies' Room

Full Moon and High Tide in the Ladies' Room

Presented by Company of Angels

Produced by Carol Ries & Mary Wickliffe

West End Playhouse. 7446 Van Nuys Blvd.. Van Nuys

Opened Sept. 27; plays Tues.-Wed., 8; runs indefinitely.

BY T. H. McCULLOH for Drama-Logue Hollywood, CA

aIn spite of the various liberation movements of the last two decades and each group's insistence on media representation of the cream of the crop, when playwrights from any of these groups sit down to write they rediscover the fact that strong characters, strong conflicts and strong comedy and drama are not found in what should be but in what is. When Marcia Haufrecht sat down to tell her tale of female bonding in, “Full Moon and High Tide in the Ladies Room” she found her action and her humanity in the real world of women looking for relationships and worrying about how to salvage the ones they have. There isn't a lawyer or studio head in the bunch: They represent the main body of the iceberg. Most of the characters are waitresses or otherwise connected with Frank's Bar and Restaurant in Greenwich Village. The others, with one exception, are friends. This is a closely knit club. Most visible in the action are: Babe, reeling from an uncomfortable relationship with Hal, pregnant, weighing the virtues of abortion or suicide, played with some insight and well balanced humor by Jennifer Buchanan; her sometimes friend Madeleine, the only vague career type, a token anchor woman whose unrequited crush on Jason drives her to drink and lack of sound judgment. a buoyant and detailed Judith Bridges; the strong-willed Sybil, artist who's locked into a pointless relationship with a macho bum because there s nothing else around, and sometimes crumbles under its weight, given an in-depth portrait, with some strong moments and some of the plays best lines, by Joyce Meadows; and Anne. Who’ll get that role on that soap if it kills her and the producer's girlfriend she’s up against, a good delineation of a very particular type of desperation in Mary Wickliffe's solid reading.

Melissa Licker finds many rewarding shades in her portrayal of Nancy, the ugly duckling who finally gets her heart's desire and becomes a full-fledged waitress; Licker's understanding of the tenderness of human frailty marks her as a young character actress to watch.

The setting is a nice masquerading by Keno of the weekend setting of Ladies of the Camellias, and Glenn L. Hendricks' lighting is effective if not inspired. Kirk Ramsey's costumes help point up the personalities of the characters.

        

FULL MOON AND HIGH TIDE IN THE LADIES ROOM 

Marcia Haufrecht's low-budget comedy is much more realistic and engrossing than the Tiffany's similar but utterly brainless Ladies' Room. Haufrecht's well drawn characters, fluid dialogue (though it's sometimes forced) and intense, amusing look at women needing to get their lives !n order is complemented by a low key, almost guileless ensemble acting style. Under coproducer Carol Ries direction. this technique draws the audience close to these women who try to sort out friends, love, abortion, suicide and career in the ladies room at a grungy Greenwich Village bar and restaurant. The plot has several strands, not the least of which is career direction (involving an artist, a writer, and an actress), but basically concerns a soft touch waitress (Jennifer Buchanan) who gets knocked up and considers abortion, two friends offer opposing views based on their own experiences, and the lady finally makes up her mind. The first half is somewhat stronger than the second, hut Haufrecht has clearly observed how female friendships work. which is by endless compromise, forgiveness and support; this alone places the play far above the mean spirited piece at the Tiffany. The actors capture rich subtext; this is particularly so in Judith Bridges' portrayal of the waitress' egotistical writer friend Madeleine. West End Playhouse, 7446 Van Nuys Blvd., Van Nuys; Tues. Wed., 8 p.m..; thru Nov. 2. (213) 466-1767. (Maryl Jo Fox)


Metamorphosis

Breaking out of the Cocoon

Metamorphosis

By Marcia Haufrecht

Directed by Michael Halliday and Marcia Haufrecht The Common Basis Theatre

Review by Andres J. Wrath OOBR

The thread of these three one-act plays is young women coming to terms with their own 

prisons: whether with their mothers in The Hallway and Ma, or with their relationships in 

Eve. The evening offered excellent acting, writing, and directing.

In The Hallway Lily (Daniella lanonne) stumbles into her Upper West Side apartment in 

Manhattan at 3 a.m.. in the morning and is greeted by her mother (Barbara English), 

who is over-protective and a little insane. The play seemed a little thin and on the 

sketchy side - but what a sketch. As directed by Ms. Haufrecht, both Lily and Mother 

were desperate creatures so in need of something to fill the void in their lives that their 

attempts to make contact were compelling.

The mother-daughter bond is more fully realized in Ma. The character of the daughter 

(Kristin Smith) asks her Ma (Marcia Haufrecht) advice on relationships. She hasn't told 

Ma that she already lives with a man. Ma at first is unwilling to discuss relationships and 

sex but soon opens up to her daughter. As directed by Michael Halliday, both Ma and 

Daughter were quirky characters who were able to surpass their own hangups and 

become closer-knit.

With Eve, Eve (Stephanie Wieringa) comes home in a drunken stupor and goes over 

the edge, finally taking her own life. The monologue at first seemed long-winded (the 

character of Eve is sort of a mess and rambles a bit), but as we see her fate 

developing the effect is chilling. Ms. Haufrecht directed Eve with much of the same 

emotional layering she did with The Hallway. The most arresting image of the evening 

was Eve taking objects around her apartment, shoving them into the hallway, and 

screaming at them, "You don't want to be here. Get Out!!!"

In The Hallway, both Ms. lanonne and Ms. English were excellent, showing a deep 

commitment to the material. In Ma, Ms. Smith and Ms. Haufrecht were wonderful, both 

lending vulnerability and honesty to the play's already rich subtext. Ms. Wieringa did 

such a great job as Eve that the actress seemed to have evaporated before the play 

began. She moved about the stage like a caged tigress. The lights and sound by 

Julieta Aranda lent a subtle touch to the plays.



Bliss Street

  "Bliss Street"

Arts And Entertainment Review

  By Kevin Dean

    

Alegra Katz has just turned 40. She is penniless, jobless, and after the automobile 

accident that sends her to the hospital in the prologue of "Bliss Street," she, is also 

carless. But is Alegra carless because she was careless while driving, or was the 

accident not an accident?

Act I places Alegra on Bliss Street in Sunnyside, Long Island, in the home of her 

stepfather, Eugene Lawrence, and her mother, Ruth. The irony of the name of the 

location quickly becomes apparent. There is little bliss in this house on Bliss Street, 

and the people living there are not keeping their sunny sides up. The tension increases 

twofold with the arrival of Abe, Alegra's father, and the psychologist stepmother, Sarah, 

who raised the unhappy woman.

Although the subject of this uneasy meeting is Alegra's current state of being, 

Eugene, Ruth, Abe and Sarah spend more time talking about their prewar, Old Left 

political activities and stewed tomatoes than about Alegra's problems. As the parents 

take potshots at each other, Alegra is left to pace the fringes of the conversation and is 

forced to fight for what attention she receives. As the play progresses, the sources of 

many of Alegra's problems become apparent to the audience members, who are in the 

uncomfortable position of being voyeurs on this scene of domestic disharmony.

The Playwright And The Play

The Skat version of “Bliss.Street" is the play's first full production anywhere: It was 

written by Marcia Haufrecht, an actress with some impressive credentials who is 

branching out into playwrighting and is starring in the lead role of Alegra here.

Although there is humor in "Bliss Street," the play is primarily a drama that is complex 

and multifaceted. Like a cubist painting, the structure of the piece shifts with 

fragmented dialogue that focuses briefly on the details of the subject matter and then 

darts into other areas. In a way, the whole of "Bliss Street" is easier to grasp than its 

parts because of this shifting angularity. And yet, at the same time, the parts stay in the 

memory, and the whole of the play tends to lose its focus when they are analyzed 

alone.

"Bliss Street" presents problems common to American families: psychological 

wounds, unintentional neglects, professional frustrations, uneasy compromises, 

pettiness, feelings of inadequacy and so on. The play leaves one feeling uneasy 

because nothing is solved when the lights go down with Alegra muttering to herself 

alone in the living room of the house on Bliss Street. But it does give the viewer plenty 

to think about in regard to his or her own family relationships, and this is the strength of 

"Bliss Street."

The Players

Haufrecht is a skilled and very natural actress. Her closeness to the material of "Bliss 

Street" -helps give the play, and particularly the character Alegra, a solid feel of truth. 

This is a real person standing on stage, with real problems and real emotional pain. Bill 

Becker is well cast as Eugene and gives a convincing portrayal of a man who is 

embittered by the events of his life and finds solace only in a bottle or belittling those 

around him. Johanna Braun is equally good as Ruth as she accurately plays a woman 

walking an emotional tightrope.

Particularly pleasing in the supporting cast are Elsa Walden and Les Bennett. 

Walden's Sarah comfortably shifts from a petty, bitchy surrogate mother to a probing 

psychologist and back again during the course of the play. As Abe, Bennett presents a 

sharp portrait of a decent but ineffectual man in a situation he cannot understand or 

handle.

 As for the play itself, "Bliss Street" is a powerful, thoughtful and thought-provoking 

work. It is not something that warms the heart or comforts the soul. But then, the truth 

hurts sometimes, doesn't it?

"Bliss Street" is being co-produced by Mark P. Famiglio.



Lucky Star

LUCKY STAR

E.S.T.

What excites me even more is the authenticity and warmth of a new voice, that of Marcia Haufrecht. 

E.S.T. recently presented her WELFARE to great critical and artistic success. LUCKY STAR continues in that tradition. Compassion and social conscience are not full-tilt trends in the cynical, urbanized theatre (and world) of the seventies, and this makes Ms. Haufrecht's work all the more fascinating--for it combines the hard edges of our daily lives, in places such as the welfare office or LUCKY STAR's hospital emergency room, with the human values that lie beneath all the players of contemporary aggravation. In this play an elderly woman (Katherine Squire), victim of a near-mugging, It brought to the hospital by a sympathetic stranger, a lovely young woman named Wendy (Wendy Girard). They have to deal with nurses and police and the delay and all the frustrations of their own lives. . Wendy is freshly divorced, the old woman alone and unmarried, the cap (Sam McMurray) on the make (in a nice way.), the nurse (Diva Osario) overworked, and so on. How these elements are mixed and blended into a compelling and compassionate one-act is a wonder. And are hell of a satisfying theatre experience, beautifully acted.

Promethea Bound and Sisyphus Too

Promethea Bound and Sisyphus Too

a La Mama production

The Napier Street Theatre, New Zeland

"Promethea Bound and Sisyphus Too" takes the dream theme and really runs with it.

Written and directed by Marcia Haufrecht, a visiting American playwright and director, Promethea Bound is a production that exhibits the advantages of opting for a theatrical dreamscape where reality has taken a rain check.

The play is set entirely within a young woman's - Promethea's - dreams. Her insecurities, needs and relationships with her family and friends are revealed tellingly through these dreams - where she is variously ignored, excluded, or frustrated by her desire to be wanted and needed. Haufrecht skillfully uses exaggeration and absurdism to chart Promethea's journey towards menial. health and the play is outrageous, witty and insightful, employs some fantastic imagery and is extremely well-acted Carolyn Beck is wonderful as Promethea, Rhys Muldoon excellent as the nasty root-rat Brian. Lloyd Jones's giant cardboard props work well.

Fiona Scott-Norman

THE BULLETIN with NEWSWEEK

MARCH 29.1994     

Directing Reviews

American Oggi

AMERICA OGGI

reviewed by Mario Fratti

Directed by Marcia Haufrecht at the Common Basis Theatre is an intense, well constructed drama entitled "The Lizard King". The young author/actor (Filippo Anselmi) demonstrates talent and sensitivity. At the start we meet Jo (Freddy Bastone) handcuffed at a police station. His opening monologue shows furious anger against the forces of law and order. A severe detective (Rocky Gibbs) threats and mistreats him, looking for a confession. In the second scene we are carried to a singles bar, where the Hamlet-like Charlie (Filippo Anselmi) comforts a recently divorced older woman, attractive but sad. Admiringly, he takes her back to his place where an interesting relationship seems to be growing. But let's not forget the violence of Jo, who drunkenly plods home where we find out that Charlie is his younger brother. It soon becomes obvious that there is no respect for other's property. Not in this house. Jo seduces Janet in front of his timid, more poetic brother Charlie. And succeeds in destroying what might have been a beautiful relationship. Fifty minutes of solid theatre. Four excellent actors, well directed by Marcia Haufrecht.

  

The Club Champion's Widow

THE CLUB CHAMPION'S WIDOW

REVIEWED BY DAN ISAAC

Backstage

What does a 66-year-old woman do to liberate herself after the death of her golf-champion husband who lived only for himself and the game?

That is the question at the heart of John Ford Noonan's wonderfully wacky play The Club Champion's Widow, given an equally wonderful production by The Common Basis Theatre. Noonan's answer to widowliberation is to try to get the kid out of the house, especially when the kid is an obsessed-with-his-dead-father alcoholic son married to a hysterical woman who wants to become a ski champion.

Director Marcia Haufrecht knows what she wants and gets it; while a polished spare set (uncredited) has been nicely lit by Helena Panas. The super costumes came from the actors themselves.

Widow premiered in Westchester in 1978, presented by the Robert Lewis Acting Company with Maureen Stapleton creating Gladys. This is its first New York City production.

Alas, for so brief a run!

Pizza Man and Little Delusions

Breakin' Up is Hard to Do

"Little Delusions": an Evening of One-Act Plays

Common Basis Theatre

750 8th Ave. rm 500 (340-1112)

Equity showcase (closes June 25)

Review by James A. Lopata

How many romantic break-ups can a person sit through in the course of an evening? Well, about two-and-a-half (out of three), based on a couple of hours at Common Basis Theatre's Little Delusions, an evening of one-act dramas. The first, Christopher Gandley's Pizza Man, highlights a multi-year relationship gone sour. The play shows the devastation in an affair that has lost its energy. Gandley, also as the lead actor, portrayed his listless character's devastating evasiveness with conviction. And a forceful Jicky Schnee played his hapless, unknowing victim. The contrast in energies between these two actors created sparks.

In the opening scene of the evening's second production, Little Delusions, playwright and actress Angela Cantelli treated us to a startlingly funny look at the intersection of romance and acting class. The astute actor Etienne Navarre conveyed grand ennui and dismissiveness as the "great" Mr. Weiss, her acting teacher. The script was obviously written to highlight Cantelli's considerable comic talents. Lloyd Price dynamically played the alcoholic lover, Marcia Haufrecht's sure-footed direction grounded these first two pieces in the engaging realism that the writing cried out for.

Common Basis Theatre prides itself on bringing truth to the theatrical experience. Searching for the truth in relationships that aren't working is tricky business. The evening provided deeper insight into this mystery.

  

The Lesson

"The Lesson" 

by Ionesco

J L ARTES

JORNAL de LETRAS

ARTES, ERDEIAS

August 14 - 27

Of the plays we saw in the Festival, it would be unfair to forget the presentation of "The Lesson" by Ionesco. It would be twice unfair. First because it is a productive lecture by Ionesco that is original in more than one direction, and second because we were allowed to appreciate once more the creative capacities already demonstrated by a young Portugese actress, Dalila Carmo in the Common Basis Theatre production,

very well directed by Marcia Haufrecht.

Review by Carlos Porto

 

 


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