Something’s Happening in the Basement

Review of Past Curfew at Young Americans' Theatre Company by Spencer T.

Unbeknownst to me, and perhaps 99% of Seattle’s population, on Market Street in Ballard - just a block away from the Majestic Bay - lies a subterranean theatre called Live Girls! Marked by a pink banner outside the entrance during shows, this unassuming venue is a cozy and comfortable place to see some of Seattle theatre off the beaten track.

Past Curfew, an amalgamation of four approximately 20 minute one-act plays presented by the Young Americans' Theatre Company (a troop self-described on their brochure as “provid[ing] opportunities for young artists to be involved with theatre”), is, as a collection, somewhat uneven but features strong performances all around.

Thomas Moore and Zoey Belyea in Rosie in the Shadow of the Melrose

Starting off is “Incognito”, an amusing portrayal of a girl (Emma Kelley, worrisomely convincing as an obsessive stalker), and her friend (Tommy Fleming, utilizing excellent comic timing) who aim to be more than just friends. Then, in “A Whole House Full of Babies”, Alberta Bleck and her acting partner Leigh Huggins give fantastic and emotionally believable performances as two teenagers dealing with the aftermath of an unplanned pregnancy, but the play felt like an odd choice for the collection.

“Dissonance” has an intriguing premise and starts out very funny and strong as the story of odd-couple pair Robert (Karl Divoky) and Frederick (Tallis Moore), a devout Christian and an equally adamant Atheist hiding together in a church during what appears to be the final hours of the United States. The acting was very good, and for the first half contains an immersing script, but then begins to drag, and eventually takes a dark and not entirely convincing turn that left me feeling unsatisfied.

The Young Americans

That said, perfectly culminating the show is “Rosie in the Shadow of the Melrose”, a hilarious, sweet, and ultimately very touching one-act that takes place on a train platform in New Jersey. Frances, played by Zoey Belyea, is an incessantly talking girl from Philly, severely lacking any sense of propriety or boundaries, who begins spilling the most intimate details of her life to a quiet and apprehensive stranger. That stranger, Thomas Moore, spends the first half of the play doing an excellent job of being silent while looking handsome and uncomfortable as Frances continues to pry. But then, when he too begins to speak, Moore shows himself to be a very adept actor as well. Alas, he is ultimately overshadowed by Belyea, whose portrayal of Frances is one of the funniest things I’ve seen in a very long time, however, together they create a nearly flawless piece with the perfect balance of emotional resonance and humor that the other plays reached for but never quite achieved. Overall, Past Curfew was a great way to see some young and talented local actors in action.

Spencer T.
July 23rd, 2009

Past Curfew is closed, but YATC's next show, Burn opens July 30th! More info here
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