Review of Wishful Thinking

Good theater in Stoughton? Think about it

(Originally published in Dane101 by Christian Neuhaus, on 4/8/2006 at 9:53 pm)

Sunday afternoon at 2:30 p.m. is the final performance of Wishful Thinking, at the Stoughton Opera House on 381 E. Main. It’s a program of six original short plays (including one musical) by local playwrights and is a production of the The Actor’s Factory, which describes itself as “a youth performance group seeking to produce vibrant sophisticated theater for audiences of all ages.” I thought the cast and director Deanna Reed fulfilled this promise with the performance I saw.

From a plot summary standpoint , the Madstage description pretty much covers anything. I thought the most imaginative piece was Doug Reed’s Bird’s Opening, which features a chess match between a lovestruck youth and a Russian chess champion as well as interactions between the chess pieces themselves, including a subversive pawn and a loquacious bishop. If the Chess people ever replace their uninspiring Broadway version script with a new version, I hope they bring Reed in as a consultant on a Stoughton version.

Doing an homage to seventies-era science fiction TV shows complete with a swaggering captain, a robot, credits, commercials and act titles is pretty bold for a production with a cast where no one was born before 1988, but the cast and crew do well with Rob Matsushita’s Joey Space, probably the most technically complex piece of the evening.

Other writers represented include Terese Kattner, Philip Heckman, Greg Lawless, and Debra Neff Nathans & Aaron Nathans. The cast does well with multiple roles and with accents, and should offer a workshop on how to do scene and intermission breaks. The performance is free but donations are accepted.