Arts & Entertainment

Providence Players’ Latest One Act Touches on Weirdness of Pandemic Life

By Mark Dreisonstok

CHRISTOPHER CROCKETT fits his role as the neurotic, wine-loving Harper well in Providence Players’ one act play, “Boredom, Fear & Wine.” (Photo: Courtesy Providence Players of Fairfax)

Providence Players of Fairfax, famous locally for their “PopUp” plays in Falls Church, have come up with another socially distanced dramatic performance on offer by video stream: “Boredom, Fear, and Wine” by Craig Pospisil dramatizes the modern angst of the coronavirus pandemic, though it does not mention Covid-19 explicitly by name. The character of Harper, played with verve by Christopher Crockett, is an anxiety-ridden wreck of a man frustrated after weeks at home and not being able to leave his apartment. He notes that sales of wine are “way up,” and he and his wife are part of this trend. He is seen drinking a glass of wine during his exasperated peals of outbursts.

Harper’s interlocutor is to be found in the person of Jess, played with calm and compassion by Caity Brown. She tries to console Harper — and herself — that the aggressive comments he makes about his family members under close quarters are kidding and not in earnest. The sole two characters in “Boredom, Fear, and Wine” discuss boredom and the importance of creating ritual in the unprecedented situation in which we find ourselves, that is, building a routine in the face of so much free time and boredom.

The dialogue takes place within the framework of a therapy session — yet which character is the patient and which is the therapist? The twenty-minute play makes a compelling case that in the Covid-19 pandemic era, we may all be “patients” in some sense in need of therapeutic solutions in order to work our way back into normality.

The direction by Sarah Baczewski is sharp, as is the editing by Chip Gertzog. Providence Players have produced several short plays for video streaming in the past year, but — perhaps in a therapeutic solution to return to routine reminiscent of issues in the play — the troupe is planning a return to live theatre with a play to be enacted in the Italian Café in Falls Church.

David Whitehead of Providence Players informed the News-Press this one will be different from the past, as it will not be indoors: “We know for sure that we will produce another outdoor theater experience from May 6 – 22 in the back of the Italian Café.” It is entitled, appropriately enough for a venue outside a restaurant, “The Parking Lot,” and is written by Adam Szymkowicz and directed by Jayne L. Victor.

Providence Players are hoping to mount a new season starting in October. “We have an established and approved calendar with the county to perform at James Lee Community Center,” Mr. Whitehead told us, “but we will need to wait and see if the County opens the facility by then. No formal season has been announced.”

This local drama company which has become a fixture in the Falls Church community has been considering a variety of plays, time periods, and playwrights for its current and future performance situations, with a committee in place to consider these options.

Julie Janson, the Producer of the PopUp series, told the News-Press: “Providence PopUp is intended to be an experimental space, and we strive to get new and diverse voices in front of our audiences. I believe we have, and our audiences have loved it.”

Providence Players has met the unusual pandemic challenge with its current “Boredom, Fear, and Wine” in a virtual and, paradoxically, very real setting, and perhaps the pandemic has expended their creative impulse still further for the future when theatre returns to live performances.