21-28 45th Rd., Long Island City
Saturday, June 28, $15, 7:00
For the last several weeks, more than a dozen entrants have been fighting it out, and now the stakes are even higher as the four finalists are ready to do battle this weekend to crown a new champion. No, we’re not talking about the World Cup — which has more than its fair share of histrionics — but the second annual Unchained Theatre Festival, organized by the Variations Theatre Group. On Saturday night, June 28, the four surviving one-act plays will be performed at the small, intimate Chain Theatre around the corner from MoMA PS1 in Long Island City, competing for the Best Play Award. The finalists are Eugenie Carabatsos’s Stalled, Marc Castle’s What Would Jesus Do?, Jon Spano’s The Sweat, and David Bellantoni’s Laundry. “We are excited about the success and audience response to this year’s festival,” VTG co-artistic director Rich Ferraioli told twi-ny. “Each of the pieces this year was both engaging and relevant for our audiences. The final group, specifically, range from comedic Laundromat thrillers to religious blind dates and even to an ensemble-based piece set entirely in a car.” For the other awards, the Best Actor category features Curtain Call’s Ryan Barry, The Sweat’s Aaron Matteson, and Laundry’s Joe Wissler, while The XXX Scholar’s Jenni Graham, What Would Jesus Do?’s Cari McHugh, and Laundry’s Malika Nzinga are up for Best Actress. Duking it out for Best Director are Stalled’s Andrew Wells Ryder, The Sweat’s Reginald L. Douglas, and WWJD? writer Castle. The casts of Stalled, The History of the Donner Party: A Country Musical!, and The XXX Scholar are up for Best Ensemble. “This is sure to be a night of laughs, smiles, and good quality theater in LIC,” Ferraioli added. Based on the preliminaries we saw earlier this week, we heartily agree, but you better act fast, as seating is limited.