For unfortunate reasons, solo theatre has had a renaissance these last two years. A show with a lone actor onstage is relatively inexpensive to produce, doesn’t require constant COVID testing to rehearse, and can be performed online quite effectively. It may be that even when/if our society returns to comparative “normality,” this form will remain a staple.
Friday and Saturday night, Arizona Actors Academy serves up the second of the two weekends of its Solo Theatre Festival, a collection of explorations of the human psyche, one actor/playwright at a time. This weekend’s performers are a different slate than last weekend’s, but if round one’s selections are any indication, round two of the festival in the Academy’s intimate performing space (masks are required for audience members) should make for a fascinating evening.
Curated by Brandy Hotchner and Isaac Byrne, last weekend’s evening opened with Futakuchi Onna by Kristin Moran, about a music student struggling with the heckling voice of her inner critic, here identified with a Japanese mythological entity, a woman with a second mouth on the back of her head. It’s raw and painful, but it’s also rivetingly theatrical, attaining the deeply creepy atmosphere of a contemporary Japanese horror film.
The second offering, Julie Oommen’s Growing Pains…, was lighter in tone. It’s about a young woman of Indian/Latina heritage deciding to become a performer against the wishes of her father. Girl in Reverse: A Feminine Rage Manifesto by Avery Volk concerns a young woman’s flirtation with non-monogamy; the story is exasperating, but Volk’s bravura acting makes it funny and engrossing.
The finale, Ksjusha’s Minutiae by Ksjusha Povod, concerns the title heroine’s OCD-style difficulties with getting bogged down in, well, minutiae. Povod is hilarious and lovable, but the piece, like all of the others, is tinged with poignancy.
This coming weekend’s performers include Trystan Youngblood, Rachel Grimes and Megan Scott. Shows are scheduled for 7 p.m. Friday, February 11 and Saturday, February 12 at Arizona Actors Academy, 4820 East McDowell Rd, Suite 101. Tickets are $12; go to azactorsacademy.com for details.