Smaller theatre companies have been hit particularly hard by the COVID pandemic. Local small stage company The Village Playhouse looks to keep its cozy, little West Allis foothold this month with its first ever Monologue Competition Fundraiser. 10 members of the Playhouse perform monologues online in prerecorded segments from 6:00 pm last night through 6:00 pm next Monday, July 13.
Admission to the competition is $5. Viewers can then vote for their favorite actor by donating the The Village Playhouse through a link under their video. Each actor has a different personal fundraising goal. The patron who donates the most money will receive a flex ticket which is good for six tickets to any production once the theater opens again.
I was able to watch 8 0f the 10 monologues. (Two weren’t available last night.) A program of monologues is performed in front of a blue curtain for a stationary camera. The rhythm of a program like this can feel a bit like sitting through a session of auditions. The periodic requests for donations to the Village Playhouse make it also feel a bit like a telethon as well.
There ARE moments that dive into something deeper than the format. Amy Wickland performs Walter Ben Hare’s A Leap Year Leap with a jitteriness that is well-suited to an early 20th century woman rehearsing a proposal to a man. Derek Jacobs is a man caught between trying to remember the chaos of a life in the military and trying to remember a woman he once met in Playing Solitaire. On the surface, it’s a simple recollection, but the nature of the monologue and the way Jacobs speaks the lines make for an interesting bit of storytelling when one considers that the character speaking the words may be an unreliable narrator. Thomas Zuelke takes the program into a dark, little corner with a quick bit cold, affectless villain monologue from the CBS TV show Person of Interest. It’s an interesting departure from much of the rest of the program.
My favorite of the eight available monologues had to be Joanna Langworthy’s performance of a piece from her turn as Jennie Malone in The Village Playhouse’s production of Chapter Two by Neil Simon. It’s difficult for any actor to launch straight into a deep and heavy explosion of dramatic tension, but Langworthy has recently spent quite a bit of time with Jennie Malone for The Village Playhouse and she has no difficulty taking a 6-minute walk with the character in the interest of raising money for a struggling theatre company.
The Village Playhouse’s Monologue Competition continues through July 13. For access, visit the Village Playhouse online.