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Typewriter Dreams

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"Typewriter Dreams: Three Centuries of One-Act Plays" is an evening of five one-acts directed by Shela Xoregos, the most important of which is the New York premiere of Oscar Wilde's 1893 "A Florentine Tragedy." A prologue written in 1906 by Thomas Sturge Moore in the style of the original is being given its American premiere as well. Although the performance proves beyond the resources of the Xoregos Performing Company, the play has historic interest as Wilde's only one-act.

Set in the 16th century, "A Florentine Tragedy" uses classical language to dramatize the oft-depicted tale of a cuckold catching his wife with a rich nobleman. Here, Bianca permits Prince Guido Bardi to visit while her merchant husband is away. When he returns unexpectedly, he not surprisingly exacts his revenge.

The elegant language and long speeches are just words in the mouths of the younger actors, but Peter Johnson as the husband years older than his wife gives a very credible performance as a Renaissance merchant tired of kowtowing to his betters. The play might work better with more gorgeous sets and costumes than Charles Ard or Abby Taylor Redmond, respectively, have provided.

However, the real surprise is the collection of offbeat and original one-acts that makes up the evening's first half. Dave DeChristopher's "Moon Vault" is an engrossing fantasy in which a perfectionist has a very unusual request of a fertility clinic. Both the style of the language and the acting are enchanted. David Fehr as the misunderstood hero and Jana Rumbaugh as the secretary strike sparks, while Rodney Sheley's Dr. Neriel takes an ironic stance.

Although an anecdote, Adé Adémola's "How the Cookie Crumbles" is a wordless playlet brilliantly acted by Kelly Markus and Fehr as two people fighting over a box of cookies in an airport waiting room. The play's surprising denouement received a roar of approval from the audience.

Both Grace Cavalieri's "Jennie & the Jujuman" and Robert E. DiNardo's "Protected" seem somewhat unfinished, but both are fascinating in form and subject matter. Sheley as the Jujuman and Johnson as DiNardo's hero recalling an incident in his youth give indelible performances.

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