4-Play: 4 One-Act Plays – Panfish Productions

By Adam Collier

4-Play: 4 One-Act Plays was performed at Unit 102 Studio. It was a production of a company called Panfish.

My seat for the performance (on Sunday night) was in the front row. There were maybe fifty chairs in total, and there’s no stage or platform for the actors. The walls and other surfaces were black. And the sets were minimal.

The understated look was generally pretty cool, maybe because it suggested the night sky, and there was something romantic and mysterious to the black – perfectly complimenting the two plays on the bill by John Patrick Shanley (A Lonely Impulse of Delight and Welcome to the Moon).

A Lonely Impulse of Delight features a character setting up a shrine of little pumpkin lights to summon a mermaid in Central Park.

Welcome to the Moon is set in a bar lighted by Christmas lights, and pivots around a man in his early thirties confessing his love for a girl he dated in high school.

Those little lights have a hypnotic effect in Unit 102 Studio.

Between the Shanley works is one by John Lazarus, Babel Rap. This slightly absurd, intellectually wandering piece got a few laughs. I didn’t connect with the material, but at the same time, I can’t say I didn’t enjoy watching it.

The producer of 4-play, Yehuda Fisher (also a performer in a few of the plays, the finest amongst them I thought, in a comic stint in Welcome to the Moon, playing an easily depressed, closeted homosexual) chose some charming work. Fisher’s casting was superb (Michael McLeister for example, has an absorbing presence, and Tina Sterling as “Shirley” in Welcome to the Moon does a funny, stagey Bronx accent).

Generally the venue works to the advantage of the show. There were a few times when I was taken-out of the moment onstage, because the stage manager’s hand was visible on the light switches. At the same time, it adds to the charm and lightness – no pun intended – of the work.

Panfish is definitely a company to keep an eye out for. They seem to have a lot of potential.