Tuesday, July 21, 2009


Teresa Valenza and Jeff Swearingen in ARSENIC AND ROSES
From The Dallas Morning News:
Festival of Independent Theatres Gets Off to a Strong Start
Monday July 20, 2009
By Lawson Taitte / Dallas Morning News
The first two weekends of this year's Festival of Indepependent Theatres share a similiar lineup of openings: One of the two founding companies still participating anchors with a show by a famous woman playwright, while three newer companies contibute a new play, most world premieres. The first week's entires, reviewed Sunday, all looked strong.
. . .
The two completely original scripts both deal with odd couples. The more successful, Audacity Theatre Lab's Arsenic and Roses is a trifle, but a really pleasant one. Jeff Hernandez directed Brad McEntire's comedy about a man down on his luck who (Jeff Swearingen) who seeks refuge in a bar where the sole waitress is a girl he snubbed in high school (Teresa Valenza). Swearingen's knack for leavening hilarious schtick with deadeye emotional accuracy works its usual wonders, and Valenza builds sympathy for a character who in the wrong hands would simply be annoying.

Fantasy and Romance
That's what the first round of openings at the Festival of Independent Theatres delivered. Who's up for more?
by Mark Lowry
Published Sunday, July 19, 2009
. . .
Audacity Theatre Lab goes for something much more traditional with Brad McEntire's Arsenic & Roses, directed by Jeff Hernandez.
Jeff Swearingen plays Charles, a man who's down on his relationship luck and was just dumped by his girlfriend of two months (the reason behind this is one of the play's funnier revelations). He wanders into a diner on a rainy night, where he meets waitress Katherine (Teresa Valenza).
Turns out, they've met before. They dated in high school, and Katherine still harbors resentment. They talk, fight and play "remember when," and if things seem familiar to them, it's even more so for the audience. McEntire has a talent for the one-liners ("he thought a Persian rug was made of cat fur," Katherine says about a former boyfriend), but this play feels like a work-in-progress. But, honestly, that's another valid reason for producing in FIT—it's a fine testing ground. 
Before this show goes any further, though, Valenza has work to do. Her anger is not believable and she talks too fast. Even in the small confines of the Bath House, she needs to project. 

Swearingen is great in a role that's less physical than we're used to seeing from him, proving that he doesn't need to be outrageous to maintain his status as one of—if not the—funniest actor in North Texas. Acting-wise, this production is off-balance.

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