The first play, titled “Henrietta,” was written by Joseph P. Krawcyz, of Bayonne, and tells the story ofa middle-aged accountant named Carl, played by Paul Sloan,who is forced to reckon with his slimy behavior after his vehicle’s GPS software, called “Henrietta,” interrogates and judges him, and eventually takes him hostage.
“Screw you, Henrietta! I’m not taking orders from some talking box in my dash,” saysCarl before the vehicle takes him for a frightening spin around the block. “You begin to see things in a much clearer light at 140 miles per hour,” Carl says.
The next play, titled “Hags,” written by Samuel Cardinale,takes place in 1975 and depicts three washed-up actresses and longtime friends preparing on set for a B-movie called “Ghouls.” The two exchange a barrage of catty and funny lines.
“Maybe that’s why I’m not as famous as you,” saysAmelia,played by Julie Trapanese, as the other two women tradeloud and obnoxious barbs. “I’m not a screamer. I am just very beautiful.”
Another play, titled “Dead Reckoning,” written by Lisa Black and Fred Dennehy, is the story of a hilariousmix-up at a funeral for a man whose “roof tragedy” death is as weird as his extensive high school trigonometry textbook collection.
“This is the wrong guy. He has a little fat mustache,” saysthe main character, Max, played by Jose Mediavilla, to his wife, Bitsy, played by Luisa Sauter.
Mediavilla also starred in the last play, “Bad Day for the Crimson Crusader.” The play depicts a 1930s radio show that doesn’t go as planned after a damsel in distress, played by Amy Rusnak, decides on air that she will no longer be helpless.
“Local theater has value to the community as a whole because it enriches both the audience and its participants.” – Jose Mediavilla
What started as a small group of expressive and creative people kicking around ideas evolved into the kind of community organization that performs with its audience rather than for it. The Comedy Playwright Project is the group’s second production after performing “Passion Play” in November. Some of the members also came up with the idea for the Bayonne Renaissance Festival, which is now in its third year.
Some of the actors are seasoned professionals, while others are finding their creative spirit for the first time through acting.
Mediavilla, a microbiologist and lab scientist who specializes in infectious disease, began acting after being inspired to do so by his wife, Bayonne resident Luis Saulter, a musician who played Max’s character’s wife in “Dead Reckoning.”He and Saulter have been performing in passion plays annually since 2009.
Without formal acting training, Mediavilla’s acting is both funny and emotional. He goes from happy to sad, to furious to remorseful in a short period of time, ensuring his character makes a fool of himself.
The plays will probably not be up for any Tony Awards this year, but that’s obviously not the point.
“Local theater has value to the community as a whole because it enriches both the audience and its participants,” said Mediavilla. “It’s an opportunity for people in town to get out there and get involved. Bayonne is trying to repackage itself as an arts community and this helps put Bayonne on the map.”
Rory Pasquariello can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.