What could be more exciting and inviting than an evening of lively theatre held outside in the relaxed setting of a small beer garden? Especially when the performance was a promising work-in-progress?
After a long bout of TV and Zoom theatre, it was wonderful to see and hear an on-stage performance by real, live actors. The occasion was a reading by a new theatre group called “without a trace” cofounded by a gifted young actress and playwright Melissa Toomey and launched in my hometown of Montclair, New Jersey.
A staged reading without a set or props, the show was designed to take advantage of the setting where it was performed. In fact, that’s one of the animating drivers behind ‘without a trace’ — the actors, play, and setting all conspire to create an in-the-moment feeling — a fleeting encounter that’s both entertaining and thought-provoking.
The debut play for this budding enterprise offered a witty, light-hearted but sharply observed glimpse into the worlds of life coaching, social media, and career angst. The two-person play bubbled and bristled with airy references to Instagram, breath work, and finding your bliss. It pitted a winsome but conniving young life coach with a hapless, confused young client who hates her job but is almost aware enough to see though the coach’s needy, greedy designs. A great combination!
Watching all this unfold and the audience’s enjoyment reminded me of just how important it is for playwrights to get their work up and “on the boards.” There’s nothing like having a chance to see and feel an audience’s reaction in real time and then hearing what worked and what didn’t during a “talk-back” session when the play is over.
How wonderful that “without a trace” debuted and is off and running! Bravo, Melissa! Inspire and write on!
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