Photo Credit : Francis Gacad
Written by Patrick Chavis
JU1CE, for one weekend only, is a theatrical event where eight — yes eight — unique plays are presented by different Orange County, California playwrights. Orange County isn’t the only connection. The event has a theme, and the theme is communication in the past, present, and future. While these are eight independent stories, it’s bundled as one night of theater. So, I will score each play individually and take the overall average of the night.
To accomplish the Herculean feat of putting on eight shows in one night, something has to give. In the case of Ju1ce, it’s set up. In some ways, it’s like a fringe festival where you must quickly move the stuff out of the way because you have another show back-to-back. Ju1ce was similar. Not a second was wasted the moment the show was done. Since they transitioned to the next so quickly, some endings felt rather abrupt, but it was all part of the fun.
The set in this production works as a branding tool to express what the night is about, but it rarely contributes to the eight stories being told on stage. The set looks like it is for a 90s TV show. A bunch of screens was bunched together in the background with gear-like computer keyboards hanging from the rafters. Colorful numbers were painted on the walls and the floor of the stage. If I were going to give the set a name, I would call it Technological Chaos, which thematically fits many of the plays presented but not all of them.
- The first play, “Reisman!,” was written by Richard Garcia and was used to bookend the show. This play highlights how one person can make such a huge impact in people’s lives. The message was there, but the package was boring. I give it a 6.5 out of 10.
- “LOL,” by Craig Holland, was more interesting. “LOL” has a clearly laid-out story and concept, but it’s generic. I could see this fitting right in at a campfire event. It’s cute. I give it a 7 out of 10.
- “I Saw What You Said” by Steven Korbar: the dialogue in this show is fine, and the setup is relatable. This is an old topic made new because of social media. The whole play is just one big fight. It is a pretty surface-level attempt at a relevant topic. I give it a 7 out of 10.
- “The Milton Fernsby Story” by Miles Garcia: this short piece was creative, and the drama builds up nicely. The direction in this story gelled. The actors had a good idea of what they were going for in the scene, and they went for it. The Twin Peaks inspiration was obvious. The ensemble worked with each other well on this one. Garcia told an engaging story in a short amount of time. 8.5 out of 10!
- “Prufrock in the Park” by Gina Shaffer: This play has a very tried and true setup. A nervous character relies on the help of his invisible mentor to approach — who else — the girl of his dreams. It’s simple, communicated well, but lacks depth. I give it a 7 out of 10!
- “Coconuts and Candles” by John Glass: This play feels more like a scene from a play than its own complete story. The acting from Rose London, who played Mitzi, held this one together. She was well cast in this role. I give it a 6.8 out of 10!
- “State Park” by Walter Simson. Two friends share a tent. resulting in a few comedic and dramatic moments. This play has some friendly, snappy, funny dialogue, but watching a tent fumble around for ten minutes doesn’t add anything. This could have been just as effective as a podcast. I give it a 7 out of 10!
- “Anti-Soulmate” by Alyssa Ahle. This love story was cute and hopeful. The acting from Craig Tyrl (Man) and Brooke Aston Harper (Woman) were some of the best performances of the night. Good chemistry between the two actors and I liked the relationship Ahle created between the characters. I give it an 8.3 out of 10!
Overall, I give this show a 7.3 out of 10! Average Show!
Jan 27 – 29,2023