nytheatre.com review by Shelley Molad
February 27, 2008
Hap Scotch is a hodgepodge of stories pieced together from two dozen writers that taps into various aspects of life, as seen and experienced from different perspectives. Presented by a cast of seven diverse and lively players, Hap Scotch delves into the trials and tribulations facing most twentysomething hopefuls who venture to New York City, only to discover that their dreams and aspirations have been tainted with disillusionment.
Though the stories are innately different and not entirely connected (a young writer can't seem to find his inspiration, an unemployed woman is fed up scrolling through random job postings on Craigslist, an out-of-work actress must come to terms with her decision to move back in with her parents), the actors manage to gracefully transition through the various stories, cleverly utilizing the space on stage. With a modest set and seven actors at her disposal, director Eliza Bell impressively creates a range of backdrops such as a college dorm room, a crowded airport, a comedy club, and an Irish dive bar. Among the cast, Emily Forbes and Tobin Ludwig particularly stand out for their comic flair and versatility on stage.
With so many stories to share and given the FRIGID festival's time constraint of one hour, the acting at times is muddled with an urgency to fill every second with dialogue. With so much to say and so little time actors sometimes fumbled over their lines or didn't give the words the time they deserved, and it was difficult to hear and absorb everything. Likewise, given all the characters to play, changes in character are sometimes dependent on verbal choices rather than physical choices; in one scene a character begins with a Boston street accent but slips in and out of an Australian accent. In order to believe and follow each and every character, consistency seemed to resonate better than a forced, drastic change.
A truly collective piece, there is bound to be some part of Hap Scotch that will speak to each audience member. But because the piece is extracted from so many personal stories, at times it feels like listening to a sample mix compiled from various diary entries.
Perhaps the performance itself resulted in some kind of breakthrough for some of the actors, as four of them—Samantha Garman, Emily Forbes, Adia Tucker, and Tobin Ludwig—contributed their own personal stories to the piece. At one point Forbes says to Garman, both of whom play aspiring actresses, "If I could have done it all over, I would have created something myself." And that's exactly what she did, as the founder of Sapling Players Theater Collective (producer of Hap Scotch).
With dozens of stories to tell and a limited time and space to tell them, Hap Scotch impressively accomplishes quite a lot. And we are reminded that it didn't take much for these guys to create their own piece of theatre—confronting the truth, accepting what life has to offer, and sharing it with a group of dedicated players.