Feb. 24 2010 12:00 AM

Witty ’Power Plays’ observes several odd relationships


Those few enlightened individuals who have never experienced the need to control others, to exert or assert themselves in an unseemly manner in order to be heard, will probably not be able to relate very well to the content of the three short one-act plays that consist of “Power Plays.” The other 99 percent of us will laugh, uncomfortably at times, as we see strangely familiar versions of our selves played out on stage by the ensemble of actors of Icarus Falling. Are we the controllers or the controlled? The dynamics shift from play to play. Who is the top dog, the underdog?

SaDonna White and Amy Winchell play out the timeless dance between boss and secretary in “The Way of All Fish.” Mrs. Asquith (White) treats her secretary, Ms. Riverton (Winchell), as something short of chopped liver, while Riverton demonstrates that she has exquisite fear-inducing inside moves of her own. White’s portrayal of the work-obsessed Asquith is highly believable, someone many of us have encountered on the way up or down the ladder of career success. Winchell, on the other hand, creates Riverton as one-of-a-kind, a shy and sweet secretary with more than one murderous psychotic thought. Winchell is most powerful, sometimes with just small movements of her head and the use of her eyes alone to convey a complex and chilling feeling.

“Virtual Reality” brings Bob Murrel as Lefty and Jack Dowd as De Reacha into an empty warehouse where De Reacha drives both himself and Lefty to sheer insanity creating a scene of emptying crates that are not really there. Dowd does deadpan as good, if not better, than most local actors, leaving Murrell with the thankless task of playing Lefty as an increasingly disintegrating hysteric.

All five of the ensemble show up for “In and Out of the Light,” in which Dodd as a dentist, Dr. Kesselman, attempts to step out of his own image as a “good Jewish boy” by “schtupping” his ample office assistant, Sue, played by Winchell. Winchell’s endowed expanse of bosoms are characters in their own right as she prances and bends and otherwise titillates Kesselman. White pops in as Wanda, the inconvenient patient with a painful toothache, and Murrell, as Harry, comes in to thwart his father’s late-night plans and announces to his father that he is gay (oy!). Murrell and White steal this play with an extended scene in which Harry Murrell attempts to anesthetize Wanda.

The environs of 1210 Turner Street do nothing to contribute to the enjoyment of this play. The chairs are hard, the three rows of audience stretch too far in both directions. Despite this hardship, all the seats were filled Saturday night and everyone was laughing.

"Power Plays"

Falling Theatre 1210 Turner Street 8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 26; 3 p.m. and 8
p.m. Saturday, Feb. 27; 3 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 28 $10 general admission;
$5 for first-time Icarus patrons. (517) 898-1679 www.icarusfalling.com