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Leah reviews The 24 Hour Plays


In our culture of reality TV shows and instant gratification, we've grown accustomed to the novelty of becoming a fly on the wall in someone's life anytime we flip to the right channel. Though we know by now reality TV isn't raw and unrehearsed, it still feels that way -- and humans can't resist the chance to watch one another in a vulnerable state.

That might be part of the theory behind why The 24 Hours Plays production at Writers & Books is such a huge hit every Fringe. The two performances that culminate from a full 24-hour cycle of writing, casting, and rehearsing are a product of risk -- and the audience is curious to see what's been created in such a short time. Will it fail?

This year, it was six shows by six playwrights -- each with one director and three cast members. Local theatregoers likely recognized many of the names in the program (yes, they impressively managed to print programs, too) but the scripts were brand new, written while the rest of Rochester slept. They ranged from a lighthearted mystery set in the Blue Ridge Mountains to a tongue-in-cheek take on the character of a "Typical Man," and all had light tech provided by the crew at Writers & Books (who also stayed awake most of the 24 hours).

In particular, the scripts of Spencer Christiano (artist-in-residence at MuCCC) and Megan Mack (who also performs with the improv group Thank You Kiss at 9 p.m. Tuesday at Blackfriars Theatre) contained standout dialogue and concepts.

I wish there was some way to channel the adrenaline the 24-hour crew was feeling. As they took their bows -- with huge, tired grins -- it was immensely clear that this process means more to those involved than it ever could to the audience. While it's surely worth filling a seat and taking on that fly on the wall status, perhaps getting involved is the ticket next year.

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