Sabato attempts to tie these diverse pieces together with encomiums and quick background about the plays that contain the monologues, so that an audience has some context. The monologues themselves mostly ran about two minutes Monday night — seven actors each doing two pieces in a show of about 75 minutes. Sabato's grout seemed longer than some of the snippets he was introducing, but he's a cheery host and endearing enough to sustain his own monologues.
On Monday night, the actors — some professional, some starting — gave the pieces their best shots. Still, it's tough for an audience to parse monologues that are generally epiphanies or extreme moments from plays that give them a well-developed context. Plus, a real audition is not for acting alone; it's a way for a director to see how you look onstage, or move, or may be fit for a part that has nothing to do with the shard you're performing.
This was obvious in a few of the pieces, but others had characters we could identify with immediately, such as Karen Devaney's portrayal of Sophie from Sophie's Choice, recounting how she had to give up a child to be murdered by the Nazis. Another was Rachel Brodeur's portrayal of Grace from Susan Brabant's monologue "Gracie and Butch"; her fluid little performance made me want to read more of Brabant's work.
Jonathan Steadman was able to make us understand the son's image of his mom in poet Lisa Buscani's "Counting"; Sharon Spitz did a nice job as the mother from Ron Cowan's Summertree, despite her piece's being a metaphor for a real story she barely refers to. Kumar Dari gave life to the character Bertie in a piece from a short story in P.G. Wodehouse's Carry On, Jeeves, and although Christina Forshey's title character from Eugene O'Neill's Anna Christie was hard to understand, Forshey's performance was affecting.
Andrew Vitagliano left 'em laughing at the end, with a characterization of the disingenuous doctor who describes the side effects of a pill. It's called "Medicine," from an Eric Bogosian one-man show, and needs no context whatsoever.
"Monday Night Monologues" lacks a program listing the actors and their pieces, which would be helpful to the audience. Nor does it offer a major element of auditions — a bio. If you want to know where the pieces came from, Sabato does his best to tell you. If you want to know where the actors came from and what they've done, no one is offering a monologue or even a typical Playbill paragraph.
Contact Howard Shapiro at 215-854-5727 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or #philastage on Twitter.
Monday Night Monologues
8 p.m. Mondays through July 23 at Plays and Players Theatre, 1714 Delancey Place. Tickets: $18-$20. Information: www.asaturdayschild.com.