Review: New Playwrights Reading Series at Villagers Theater in Somerset

FRANKLIN, NJ—Villagers Theater in Somerset, one of New Jersey premier non-equity theaters, held the thirteenth installment of its "New Playwrights" reading series last month.

The series began in summer of 2001 and was the brainchild of Catherine Rowe Pherson, one of NJ Community Theatre’s most noted leading ladies.  The last three installments have been placed in the very capable hands of theater impresario Lluana Jones.

What the series does is provide emerging playwrights a chance to hear their works preformed in front of live audience and allows for feedback from that audience as well.

Last month’s readings consisted of four short plays, two each by playwrights Ken Jaworowski and John Twomey.  Jaworoski was up first with "The Truth Tellers," a light romantic comedy.

The lineup followed that with a poignant family drama: "One to the Head, One to the Heart."

Both plays—well written told through narratives got their points across well.  I would have preferred one of Jaworoski’s stage works be told through interactive dialogue.  Without it, it was a bit of a challenge to gauge his gifts as a playwright.

That doesn’t mean the plays didn’t work—they did and the audience's response to both confirmed it.

Up next was Twomey's first play.  "Biff and Blanche" was a delightful and satirical farce involving two famous characters from other works: Death of a Salesman’s Biff and Streetcar Named Desire’s Blanche.

These characters encounter each other through the personas of struggling actors dueling over a cab.

Twomey followed this up with the charming "Cake Top Follies," where two bridesmaids struggle over the top layer of a wedding cake.

All four plays provided the audience with a divergent night of comedy, drama and pathos.

Both directors, Nick Thomas and Zita Geoffroy-Heinz, gave stagecraft and credibility to their assigned works and none of the actors on stage miss a beat.

The series continues once a month from now through May 19, with the next installment coming on March 17.

If you are interested in theater and thirst for something fresh and different with FREE ADMISSION, the next installment will be worthwhile.

Villagers Theater is located at 475 DeMott Lane in Somerset, NJ, just four miles from the New Brunswick border.
For more information, call the box office at 732-873-2710  or visit VillagersTheatre.com.

Editor's Note: The author of this article is a playwright who has participated in the series at Villagers several times in the past.