Burien Actors Theatre’s Playwrights Festival continues through May 19

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Burien Actors Theatre’s Playwrights Festival continues through May 19
May 18, 2019 7:30 pm
May 18, 2019 9:00 pm
Unnamed Organizer
May 14, 2019
Burien Actors Theatre
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14501 4th Ave. SW, Burien, WA, 98166, United States

Jonah (Haley Forrester) contemplates life inside the belly of the whale—er—Great Fish in the one-act comedy The Great Fish and Jonah, written by Matthew Weaver, in BAT’s 2019 Playwrights Festival of brand-new plays by Washington State playwrights. Performances of Great Fish run May 10-May 19. Photo by Michael Brunk / nwlens.com

A brilliant thought occurs to Jonah (Haley Forrester) in the one-act comedy The Great Fish and Jonah. Photo by Michael Brunk / nwlens.com

Jonah (Haley Forrester) experiences the wet downside of living inside the belly of a Great Fish in the one-act comedy The Great Fish and Jonah. Photo by Michael Brunk / nwlens.com

By Shelli Park

Burien Actors Theatre’s 2019 Playwrights Festival: Part 2 doesn’t disappoint.

The first play is a short called The Big Fish and Jonah, directed by Rachel Rene. Revisiting the well-known Old Testament Bible story of similar name, playwright Matthew Weaver humorously interweaves bits based on the original story with modern issues in a clever way. Weaver addresses the current political climate in a way that infuses humor with reflection.

The action takes place in the belly of the fish. The set is delightfully representative, designed and dressed by Maggie Larrick and Cyndi Baumgardner, respectively.

Haley Forrester is Jonah, the person rescued from the deep sea by the Big Fish. Jonah doesn’t want to be the mouthpiece of God. She questions everything. And rightfully so. The world isn’t a simple place. Forrester brings a full spectrum of fun and frustration to the stage as she and Herman, the Big Fish (voiced by Max Waters), weather adventures of sea and mind.

From left to right, Doris (Connie Murray) discusses selling her home in the conservative farming community of Goldendale with real estate agent Colleen (Stela Diaz) in the full-length drama Goldendale,. Photo by Michael Brunk / nwlens.com

From right to left, Jim (Steve Murphy) tries to calm his husband, Steve (Tim Takechi), when they are turned down as buyers of the Martins’ home because they are gay n the full-length drama Goldendale. Photo by Michael Brunk / nwlens.com

The second play, Goldendale, brings us into a deeper space. With a deft hand, Kevin K. Berry presents a very real world, tackling the intersection between faith and freedom, fear and love. Berry’s story journeys to a small town where the times are changing. The town of Goldendale is at the very cusp of growing up from an unenlightened, conservative Christian haven to a place where all are accepted despite their sexual orientation. Berry has created characters with authentic complexity. It is a good story.

Doris (Connie Murray) is a mother of four boys. She is guided by her faith that God will answer every prayer if you just believe and keep trying. The boys have grown up and have lives of their own. All but one. Murray is deeply convincing as a woman who is consumed by fear and grief, always busy, busy, busy to distract from thought. She is birdlike in her movements, but a force of nature when pressed.

The father,Jesse, played by Scott Green, deals with the stress of the unspoken by sitting in his favorite chair and drinking a beer. He loves his wife, and does what he can to understand and keep the peace. At the same time, in their daily interactions, he is passive and expects his needs to be attended to. There are moments of great emotion and Green is superb. I was brought to tears near the end as Jesse deals with his own buried grief.

Doris and Jesse are in the midst of selling their house to move closer to one of their sons in Arizona. They receive an offer from a couple with two children, but after some nosey-neighbor reconnaissance, Doris refuses to sell. She will not sell to people who she considers an abomination in the sight of God.

Steve and Jim are the couple, They want to move their family away from L.A. and return to the simplicity and safety of the small town life. Steve spent his Summers at his grandparents house in Goldendale and it seems like the perfect place to call home. Steve Murphy plays Jim. Murphy’s presence is lovely. His performance is nuanced and grounded. H is the counterbalance to frenetic energy of Doris, and to Jesse’s distress.

Goldendale is a play filled with emotion. It is balanced and well-written. Rochelle Flynn directs this play with a seasoned touch. Aside from a couple of less than stellar performances it is important to see. The material is vital and touches the heart.

This year’s production of BAT’s Playwright Fest is very satisfying. It is wonderful to be able to see great theater so close to home.

Performances are Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday matinees at 2 p.m. at Burien Actors Theatre, 14501 4th Ave. SW in Burien (map below).

Tickets are $12, and each ticket includes admission to two plays—a one-act followed by a full-length—and a short talk-back with the audience after each play.

You can also save $2 Off by printing your own coupon below:

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More info at https://burienactorstheatre.org.