Amy Winehouse meets Karen Carpenter on a bench outside a cosmic nightclub, both reluctant to “face the music,” in “Close to Black,” the second play in “Triple Bypass,” which is subtitled “Three Ten-Minute Plays About Living for Death and Dying for Life.” These plays, which are not half bad, are written and performed by the members of the Aberdeen Community Theater. Since this is the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, I at first assumed they were from Aberdeen, Scotland and that the name was cheeky and hip, like the avant-garde company that calls itself Elevator Repair Service. But no, they’re from Aberdeen, South Dakota and they really are a community theater, housed in a 1920s movie palace that they moved into about thirty years ago. The plays were filmed on the stage without an audience.
I picked this show more or less at random, having never been to Edinburgh, and curious what their digital offerings would be like now that the festival has resumed in-person performances. I also liked the idea of “traveling” to Edinburgh in order to experience South Dakota theater for the first time.
The first of the three plays, which are all written by Deena M.P. Ronayne and directed by Brian T. Schultz, is entitled “Seeking Dignity.” A man who is terminally ill (Kane Anderson) has hired somebody to kill him – but the woman who appears at his door (Page Walth-Tiede) wants to kill him for another reason…because as a child she watched from next door while he molested boys from the neighborhood.
In “Close to Black” Amy Winehouse and Karen Carpenter (Michelle Schaunaman and Julia Fredrichsen, both of whom are standouts), see how much they have in common – how the music machine caused their deaths, one at age 32, the other at 27, albeit decades apart, the point being that the music industry hasn’t changed its ways.
“Tango-ed Web” is a flighty comedy about a spider (Kane Anderson again) who wants to woo a widow (Emily S. Davis) even though a bee (Curt Campbell) warns him that she has eaten all her previous suitors.
Although each play is only about ten minutes long, they could use some tightening; their premises are more engaging than the way they play out.