While Ellen McLaughlin's drama Tongue of a Bird attempts to soar at Off-Broadway's Public Theatre, New York Performance Works finds itself with a Stumbling Tongue. That's the overall title given to six new one-acts by such dramatists as Craig Lucas and Kenneth Lonergan. Among stars appearing in the plays, April 15-May 8, will be J. Smith Cameron and Julie Dretzin.
A collaboration by Mosaic Entertainment and New York Performance Alliance, The Stumbling Tongue has as its theme people's inability to communicate. For example, Elizabeth Benjamin's Slippers and Eggs tells of a liaison between army corporal and a hotel maid and how their ranks keep getting in the way. Neena Beber's Misreadings looks at a college English professor who can't reach her apathetic students.
Also on the bill:
*Craig Lucas' What I Meant Was, about a family that finally gets a chance to speak its mind around the dinner table.
*Sharr White's The Barbarian and the Moon (Or How the Troubles All Began), a reworking of the creation myth.
*Jamie Gorenberg's And Many More, telling of a young couple having a most unusual evening together.
*Kenneth Longergan's You Can Count On Me, about the reunion of a sister and her runaway brother.
J. Smith Cameron, now on Broadway in Night Must Fall, stars in the Lonergan play opposite Glenn Fitzgerald. Julie Dretzin, who played Jane Alexander's daughter in The Sisters Rosensweig, stars alongside Peter Jacobson (Rhinoceros) in And Many More. Lee Wilkof, recently in Off-Broadway's Oy!, stars in the Lucas play, to be directed by Pippin Parker. Nathan Dean and Penny Balfour star in Slippers and Eggs, directed by Craig Carlisle. Andrew Goldberg will stage Barbarian.
Atlantic Theatre artistic director Neil Pepe directs Misreadings, which features Paula Devicq. Designing "The Stumbling Tongue" are Lorena Gomez (costumes), Rob Bissinger (set), Renee Molina & Shawn Gallager (lighting) and Roger Rains (sound).
For tickets and information on The Stumbling Tongue call (212) 840-8400, ext. 54.
-- By David Lefkowitz