By Bob Evans
For Fringe entry, “Star Stuff,” two short plays by Emma Carter, both from two separate futuristic time frames, would both qualify for inclusion in the old TV series The Twilight Zone, with scenarios that depict a woman’s worth in society.
Carter’s two pieces, produced by Forrest Attaway and Kokopelli Theatre Company focus on social position of women in society and choices they make. “Rank” and “Happy?” give Carter the opportunity to challenge social mores and social positions assigned to women.
In Carter’s pieces, she cast three local actresses that understand the material and give high-caliber deliveries of the material. The cast for each play involves three characters, keeping tight focus on the plot by creating strong rounded characters.
Emmy Panzica-Piontek, Lindsay Weaver and Christoph David Cording become the characters they portray with confidence and nuance necessary in “Rank.” Panzica-Piontek’s nervous performance in “Rank” makes the audience squirm along with her as she battles inner beliefs pitted against harsh choices and realities. While Panzica-Piontek character battles inner voices, Lindsay Weaver’s character shows the cold-blooded confidence of a person who will sacrifice belief to succeed at any cost. It’s “survival of the fittest” in her mind-set.
Even with the strong performance of the two actresses in “Rank,” the standout performance comes from KC newcomer, Christoph David Cording. His performance stands above most in this year’s Fringe Festival. Directors take note. Cording is an actor you need to use. He will be in demand after this production.
For the second part of Carter’s “Star Stuff,” her other play “Happy?” gives Emmy Panzica-Piontek, Christiana Coffey, and Lindsay Weaver a chance to take aim at marriage. In this case, “happily ever after” comes under challenge with two bridesmaids Coffey and Weaver questioning their future as it pertains to marriage. One agrees with the notion that marriage is the end-all-be-all destination for females. Panzica-Piontek plays the bride, thrilled to “cross over” to her new life. Christina Coffey plays the maid-of-honor who eagerly anticipates her upcoming nuptials and “crossing over.” Weaver questions the decision and wants to carve her own niche. All three actresses work well together in this piece.
According the Fringe website: “Two one-act plays by Emma Carter, each set in alternate realities. Nova is struggling to survive in a dystopian society that demands excellence of all its citizens, where a person’s Rank can be the difference between life and death. Carol-Ann, though given more freedoms, is clinging to what little sense of control she has as she watches friend after friend “cross over” into their new lives. Though worlds apart, both young women, wittingly or not, refuse to conform to the mold society has given them.”
From Carter, “Thank you Kokopelli Theatre Company, Katie Gilchrist, Emmy Panzica-Piontek, Christiana Coffey, and Lindsay Weaver for making “Star Stuff” happen. I continue to be impressed by the ability of local KC actors to make amazing art happen with limited time, limited budget, and unlimited talent.”
“Star Stuff” played on the Musical Theatre Heritage Mainstage.
Tags: KC Fringe Festival, Kansas City Theater, Kansas City Performing Arts, Kansas City Arts & Entertainment, Musical Theater Heritage Mainstage, Kokopelli Theatre Company,