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David reviews 'The Geriactors Present'


I don’t think the Fringe Festival gives an award for Most Charming Production, but if they decide to, the Geriactors’ tribute to Byron Wilmot had better be in the running. The performers and the material, by a local playwright who died suddenly in 2014, fill an hour with genial amusement, and occasional bemusement. One of Wilmot’s greatest gifts, among many, was the gift of friendship, and this is a very friendly show.

These little plays — all two-handers and none much more than five minutes long — are hardly edgy or avant-garde; they resemble old-style TV variety show sketches, but extremely tidy, well-written ones. Byron’s theatrical heroes included W. S. Gilbert and Larry Hart, and he apparently learned the virtues of witty concision from both of them. There are few words in these plays, and no wasted ones.

Byron wrote his characters the way James Thurber drew his: more or less resembling reality, but with a healthy dose of amiable loopiness. He could also take a cliched situation — an older couple mutually misremembering a past event, a lunch date in which the tables are turned — and make it genuine and pleasing. In fact, the “old couple” play, simply titled “Communication,” is just about perfect, and absolutely hilarious. Others are whimsical or a bit sentimental. If you were lucky enough to know the writer, as I was, you’ll feel his personality in the writing — and you’ll feel a bit melancholy knowing that he was not able to write more.

The vastly experienced (geri)actors are Greg Byrne, Morey Fazzi, Roger Gans, Ellen Herzman, Darrell Lance, Linda Loy, and Ginni Pierce, directed by Jean Gordon Ryon. They’ve apparently been performing these pieces for years, and it shows in their relaxed and precise performances. Along with the plays, the eight of them also offer two delightfully corny old songs praising life in “Kodak Town” — which have nothing to do with the plays, but which somehow fit in just fine.

“The Geriactors Present” will be performed again on Wednesday, September 18 and Thursday, September 19 at 2 p.m. Writers & Books. $15. Appropriate for ages 13 and older.

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