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LaBute one act festival, 1/23/19

Alaina, Richard, and I saw a series of three one-act plays by Neil LaBute on 1/23/19. Richard and I are fans of LaBute - - we loved *reasons to be pretty* and especially loved *All the Ways To Say I Love You.* He's a strong, sometimes brutal writer. He loves to push our buttons, and I'm someone who loves having his buttons pushed. In the right context.

*The Fourth Reich* was a one-man play directed by John Pierson, starring Eric Dean White. The character is tentatively trying to restore the reputation of Adolf Hitler. How's that for pushing buttons? His point was that history is written by the winners, who can say whatever they want, and the losers don't get the respect they deserve. The chilling thing is that a lot of what he said actually made sense, in an abstract way, though of course you stop yourself from actually believing it because it's HITLER he was talking about. It was very thought-provoking. Or maybe just plain provoking. Alaina said, "Labute demonstrates just how easy it is to get caught up in details and minutiae and become blinded to the large toxic vista of Hitler's reach." This was Richard's favorite, of the three.

The second play was *Great Negro Works of Art,* directed by Pierson again and starring KeiLyn Durrel Jones and Brenda Meaney. They played a man and woman who are on a blind date. She chose the titular art exhibit as their venue. He brought her flowers, they were attracted to each other, but it went downhill from there! The choice of the art exhibit tells you that the central issue is race: she's a Caucasian woman and he's an African-American. They might have been just as much of a mess if they'd been the same race, but the race problem certainly was a problem. This play was the funniest of the three, and my favorite.

The final play was *Unlikely Japan,* directed by LaBute himself and starring Gia Crovatin. It was the story of a woman who was watching a news story about a recent mass shooting. She recognized the name of one of the victims as an ex boyfriend of hers. The play consists of her wondering how things went wrong with their relationship, and if he might still be alive if things had gone differently. This was the mellowest of the three plays, and for me, the least satisfying. And this was Alaina's favorite of the three - - the three of us were all over the map.

The Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles announced in December 2017 that they'd be doing a production of LaBute's *Fat Pig* starring Chrissy Metz in May of 2018. Then they announced in February 2018 that *Fat Pig* had been replaced by a new play by Amanda Peet. LaBute had been playwright in residence at MCC Theater in New York for a number of years, and around this same time they severed ties with him. I don't know the rest of the story about any of this, but am glad that LaBute has found a place that will do his new work.

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