Geoffrey Long
Tip of the Quill: Archives
Friends on stage.

Last weekend I had the pleasure of seeing two of my old friends from The Advisory Board take the stage in the Cedar Lane Stage group's Summer Sampler 2003, a collection of three one-acts. The first play, Hawks, Doves and Hardwood by Michael Goldfarb, is about three students struggling against a last-minute deadline for a school presentation on American manifest destiny. David, a Jew, was played by David Coyne; Jason, an American basketball player, was played by Matt Baughman; and Suni, a Palestinian, was played by my friend Courtney Davis. The general idea was pretty standard – three kids from different backgrounds have to overcome their differences in order to reach a common goal – but the execution was very well done, with the idea of manifest destiny subtly contrasted against the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Better yet, the comparison is further complicated by the awkward American fumbling to understand through sports metaphors. While the ending was a little too sugary and predictable, the play was solidly performed, well written, and delivered some interesting things to think about in the car ride home.

Next up was Superhero, written by Mark Harvey Levine, directed by my old compadre Nello DeBlasio and starring Katie Morgan and Inkblots' own William R. "Bill" Coughlan. Superhero is the story of Rachel and Leonard, two sort of lonely everyday neighbors in an apartment complex. The schtick is that Leonard has decided that since his life is so humdrum and everyone seems out to get him, all of this day-to-day stuff must really be a cover for his true, previously-unknown-to-him identity as a superhero. You can imagine how this would be really, really funny, and Morgan and Coughlan pull it off perfectly. (My favorite lines from the play: "I know I have superpowers, I just don't know what they are yet... I know I can't fly.") Coughlan uses a really great booming superhero voice to deliver most of his lines, while Morgan delivers a fittingly mousy and hugely endearing performance as the girl next door with an obvious crush on the would-be superhero. The end result is a short piece that's both touching and side-splittingly funny. A must-see.

The final play on the bill is Connections by Daniel Mont, which tells the story of two people and their server in a bar in midtown Manhattan. Miranda (Rebecca Compton) is a brash, unlikeable New York Jewish woman in her 30s who's scrambling to get hitched and start breeding, and when she meets her blind date Tom (Brian Crane), an overeager, overnice, and frankly pathetic Lutheran assistant Webmaster from Pennsylvania, cattiness ensues. Tom doesn't meet her minimum requirements for romantic consideration and she instantly dismisses him with the same catty meanness that she uses on their server, the young and equally brash poet-waitress Svetyana (Amanda Zantal). Tom takes offense at Miranda's harsh treatment of others and invites Svetyana to join them for a drink, to teach Miranda not to be so prejudiced. The results are, to say the least, predictable. The trouble I had with this one is that the audience is made to feel too little sympathy for any of them: Miranda is too much of a bitch, Tom is too mewling and Svetyana is the overdramatic angst-ridden poet-wannabe that makes everybody wince. The irony is that in a play all about overcoming prejudice, the performances don't go far enough to elevate the characters past cardboard and into rounded, likeable people. Worse, the play lacks the contrasting ideas of Hawks, Doves and Hardwood or the humor of Superhero, so all audience members walk away with is a distinct feeling that these three people deserve each other. If nothing else, the final play is guaranteed to make your date that much more attractive by comparison.

All in all, though, the Summer Sampler 2003 is a nice night of community theater, and is well worth the bargain admission price. You still have time to catch it if you're in the neighborhood: the plays will be running this Saturday and Sunday at 8 PM, and admission is $5. For more information and directions to the venue, swing by


Thanks for the nice review Geoff! I'm glad you could come out to see the show.

By the way, if you happen to go to you'll be greeted by a photo of my bloodied mug from the recent CLS production of Macbeth, where I played the tragically betrayed (but ever lovable) Banquo.

P.S. what are the radio buttons for on this form? I'm apparently choosing one thing over another but I'm not sure what that is. (I don't see any labels.)

No problem, man! Thanks for the great show! And yeah, I saw that and wondered if that was you. I'll try to get out to see you the next time you hit the stage, I swear.

Huh. I can see the "Yes" or "No" by the "Remember personal info" question over there. Anybody else having this problem?

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