Reviewed by David Kashimba
Photo by Jeff Thomas

Come join the fun at Actors Theatre of Santa Rosa for their Fifth Annual New Works Festival (Quickies). When you enter the theatre, you’ll think you are going to a restaurant. Indeed, the theatre has been transformed into the Quickies Café where the actors take orders from the audience. This seven course dramatic meal offers two choices per course. For example the night I attended the soup choices were Perfection by Rebecca Goodberge and Johnny Hong Kong by Kate Walat. The actors/waiters take everyone’s order and clip them to a round robin behind the counter where an actor with a big white chef’s hat tallies the votes and announces the audience’s choice.

That night it was Johnny Hong Kong, directed by festival coordinator John Warren, starring Brent Lindsay as five and a half year old Johnny and Amy Pinto as his mom. A single mom, she explains to Johnny that he was a star in the sky until she ate it. Nine months latter she gave birth to him. He has some pretty cool karate moves and calls himself Johnny Hong Kong. He’s a smart kid and probably thinks too much for his age, because he’s always wondering about, “what if all you did is think and think and think and your head got bigger and bigger?”

This 20-minute play is pure poetry disguised as a cute family comedy. One of Johnny’s fascinations is his goldfish and their bowl of water. He observes that the bowl is a circle like his head and that the fish have the healing quality of being able to eat his thoughts and prevent his head from getting too big.

The festival received over 600 short play submissions and selected 14 for production. Each night the audience gets to see seven plays of their choice, making a unique dramatic experience for audience members who attend more than once.

There is a wide range of drama from comedy to tragedy and even one high-tech play that could easily come to life in our near future. Starring Scott Wagman as a businessman and Cynthia Abrams as his high-tech rental car, The Deluxe Option Techno, by Dennis Jones, was directed by Tim Earls. A down-to-earth Hal (from the film 2001) with a comic twist, this car’s computer is more sensual than this businessman can handle.

Come join the fun at the Quickies Café where you get a calorie free, cholesterol free meal that both tickles your ribs and provides much food for thought. And if your head grows too big, see Johnny Hong Kong on the way out for some goldfish.

For tickets or information call (707) 523-4185 ex 1 or visit www.actorstheatre.com.

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