LAMOINE — Lamoine Community Arts Theater this weekend will stage readings of six thought-provoking short works by David Ives, widely considered the master of that genre.
While the actors may have their scripts in hand when they take the stage at 7 p.m. Friday-Saturday, May 18-19, they will have memorized their lines well enough to act rather than simply read their dialogue. At a recent rehearsal at the Lamoine-Bayside Grange Hall, where “An Evening of David Ives” will be performed, there was enough action, sets, props or just good storytelling to help one forget about the scripts and get thoroughly involved in the tales they were telling.
And, oh my, what an assortment of stories they are. Some are hilariously improbable, others poignantly possible, and all in one way or another say something about the human condition — even the one about insects.
In that one, “Time Flies,” the excellent Roland Dube and Leslie Michaud play a pair of hyperactive mayflies who meet the morning of their birth, fall in love in the afternoon, shack up that evening and make the mistake of watching a “Nature” program about the life span of the mayfly. It’s a downer for them, but only for a moment as their memory is blessedly short-lived as well.
Dube and Michaud, who have performed together for many years, manage to exude some powerful buggy chemistry despite being in constant frenetic motion.
Ives’ “The End of Travel” also deals with untimely death but in a more metaphysical mode. A middle-aged woman goes to a travel agent to plan her first real trip. The agent turns out to be something of an oracle, not only offering a couple of itineraries, but their outcomes as well.
This piece also is well cast with Kathy McGlinchey as a buttoned-up woman contemplating her first adventure and Andrea Gabel-Richards, who really does have the deep, mellifluous voice that a proper sibyl should possess.
Some of these short pieces, such as “The Blizzard” and “It’s All Good,” have a dark edge to them. But each bears the imprint of an author who observes seemingly mundane events from an unexpected perspective — like looking at an elephant through a microscope. What you see is strange but also oddly familiar.
Aside from Ives’ inventiveness, what keeps these six pieces from getting a bit redundant is that most of them have a different director, who brings yet another distinct perspective to the mix.
According to Fred Stocking, who is directing two of the plays and serves as a general coordinator for the presentation as a whole, the decision to have multiple directors and plays is a departure from their usual spring “reading” fare.
“Normally, we have a choice to do a full-length play or a couple of one-acts,” he says. “The chosen director has the leeway to do a strict reading presentation or a fully staged one. But when we gathered to select a play and director this time, we weren’t finding a good match.”
As part of this selection process, Stocking says, they usually read a short work together for fun and inspiration. “Just to remind us why we are doing this,” he says. “Often, it’s a David Ives piece, and someone suggested why not doing a bunch of them.”
Ives is a prolific writer and the problem became which ones to pick
“In the end,” Stocking says, “the plays and directors seem to have chosen each other. During the readings, someone would say “oh, I could get behind that one.”
Eventually the good match that eluded them earlier happened six times over.
The Lamoine-Bayside Grange is located at 7 Lamoine Beach Road. For more info, visit www.lamoinearts.org.