AISLE SAY Philadelphia


by Dennis DiClaudio
Directed by Leonard Kelly
O'Neal's Irish Pub, 611 South 3rd Street, Philadelphia, PA
Running as part of the Philadelphia Fringe Festival
Through September 12th For tickets call: (215) 413-1318

Reviewed by Claudia Perry

"The Writer's Mind" actually consists of two short plays, "Harelip & Sputnik" and "The Writer's Mind", by Dennis DiClaudio. The total running time is no more than 45 minutes and yet in that 45 minutes the laughs never stop coming.

In the first piece, "Harelip & Sputnik" we witness two characters on a date from hell. The Woman, played with mind crushing earnestness by Amanda Schoonover is a bitter young woman with a non-stop mouth and a huge chip, only it's not on her shoulder. As the evening progresses and her make-up wears off we inevitably see the root of her problem. In fact that problem gets larger and larger every time she comes back from the ladies room where she has been desperately trying to cover it up. The unfortunate Man (endearingly portrayed by Michael J. Ewing ) sitting across the table from her has his own problems, being a boy in a bubble for most of his life. He has only recently been released from his constricting environs, to find out that the doctors had made a terrible mistake and that there was nothing wrong with him in the first place. Add to these malcontents a third unbalanced character in that of the Waitress (played by a wild eyed Kellianne McCullion) and you have a disastrous evening. I mean disastrous for the characters - sheer delight for us!

In "The Writer's Mind" we find the Writer (played by Michael J. Ewing) smoking and toiling at his word processor extolling his powers as "a creator". This piece is almost an extended comic monologue for The Writer until he conjures up the other characters: a provocative actress in exotic underwear (Amanda Schoonover), a critic in a baseball cap (Jeremy Chacon), an audience member (Ed Miller), and a Director (John D'Alonzo) who only utters two words, "Lights down," at the end of the play. DiClaudio's jokes about actors, writers, directors, audiences and critics are just dead on funny.

Some credit should also be paid to the director, Leonard Kelly, for without his pacing the show wouldn't click like the clever clock it is. I can't tell you the last time I laughed as much - except maybe at one of "The Dive"'s Sketch Comedy rehearsals. I can only hope that the next evening of Dennis DiClaudio's work is a full one. When something's this good - you just want more.

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