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Theatre Review: Raconteur Theatre’s latest Flex Series, The Big Picture, takes you through the highs and lows of life

Anne Evans Anne Evans Theatre Review: Raconteur Theatre’s latest Flex Series, The Big Picture, takes you through the highs and lows of lifeJessica Studer, left to right, Carmen Scott and Greg McGill in "A Fit of Pique" in Raconteur Theatre’s The Big Picture a collection of one-act plays by Mark Harvey Levine performed at Club Diversity. Photo Credit: Raconteur Theatre.
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How do you feel about your life right now? Happy? Sad? Regretful? In The Big Picture, playwright Mark Harvey Levine invites us to examine the little scenes of life, but be aware of how they work together in your life as a whole. It’s the first time Raconteur Theatre has featured a single playwright for their Annual Flex Series, now in it’s fifth year. The collection of twelve plays is performed in two acts -you may choose to watch either act or both- and each play runs about 10 minutes.

Sometimes you might find yourself doing something absolutely absurd trying to make something special for someone. In A Birthday Party, Jenn Barlup, alone on stage, details herself going to creepy extremes of digging through garbage and spying in car windows to find out how the man she has dated one time spells his name. “Don’t you want someone who tries hard?” she says loudly to herself to justify her actions. Although many may not take it to such a level, I’m sure many have done some internet stalking to discover what they can about potential dates.

A Fit of Pique tells the story of Annie, played by Carmen Scott and Rich, played by Greg McGill and their still-new relationship. It opens with Rich waiting at a restaurant for Annie, who walks in with her sister Lisa, played by Jessica Studer, in tow. Annie is very beautiful and is convinced it is because she is in a constant state of annoyance from Lisa. Lisa is the perfect annoying sister and director Stephen Woosley makes sure the pings of annoyance come at all the right moments. When Rich finally convinces Annie he will love her without Lisa there, the audience gets to see one of the most amazing female melt-downs ever by Scott.

Jessica Studer, left to right, Carmen Scott and Greg McGill in "A Fit of Pique" in Raconteur Theatre’s The Big Picture a collection of one-act plays by Mark Harvey Levine performed at Club Diversity. Photo Credit: Raconteur Theatre.

Another highlight was Two Minute Warning. Jim Coe plays as an Announcer and Tom Shafter plays as a Commentator. They appear to be talking about any old sports match, but as the dialogue progresses, you realize they are actually commenting on a theatrical performance. The absurdness of it and some of their comments, “paraphrasing is up this year,” garnered lots of laughs from the audience.

Jim Coe also appears in The Candidate with Catherine Rinella. They are waiting for their candidate to show up for a public event. As Rinella provides phone updates that get top the crazy with crazy, Coe translates them into some of the most wild political spin you’ve ever heard. It’s a lot of sharp writing and great jokes that Coe delivers really well.

A couple of the plays struggle to find their groove – the couple in A Walk in the Ocean don’t seem to spark enough to warrant a break-up/get back together relationship and it’s hard to tell if the Man in A Little Fresh Air is happy with his life as a new dad, or really struggling with it.

There are two shorts with large ensembles; the stronger one being The Big Picture, where each crayon in the box worries about being used up by their artist. It drives home the sentiment that your life as an individual is important, but what you leave behind among all of the lives you touch will shine on long after you are gone.

The Big Picture, featuring 12 shorts by Mark Harvey Levine, has shows remaining through April 21st.
Thursdays through Saturdays with the first act at 7:30pm and the second act at 8:30pm.
Sunday, April 15 with the first act at 2:30pm and the second act at 3:30pm.
Shows take place upstairs at Club Diversity, 863 S High St, Columbus 43206. Tickets are $15 for both acts or $10 to see just the first or second act, and are available online at www.raconteurtheatre.com. For additional information, call 614-656-2228 or Email [email protected].

Want to help Raconteur decide what to do next? Join them every second Tuesday of the month at 7pm at Gresso’s for free script readings. Gresso’s is located at 561 S. High St., Columbus 43206.

Also of note: Raconteur will be holding auditions for their June production of Reservoir by Eric Henry Sanders on Saturday April 14 from 1 – 4pm and Monday April 16 from 6:30-9:30pm, at Club Diversity (863 S. High Street, Columbus 43206).

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