As a cheerleader for the arts in OC, I think OC-centric, the new play festival at Chapman University, is one of the things most worth yelling about. It’s now in its sixth year yet somehow many folks still haven’t heard about this showcase for the work of living, breathing playwrights. Probably a lot of the same folks complaining about the same old same old on the SoCal theatre scene.
The one-act program is a treat. Scott K. Ratner’s “Kill a Better Mousetrap” concerns the longest-running play in theatre history, a chestnut of questionable merit perpetrated by Agatha Christie. It’s a wild ride that gives Sean Burgos the opportunity for a manic rant of epic proportions, with the director’s reins in the inspired hands of Tamiko Washington. Joshua David Vega’s “Left Behind, Waiting” depicts what happens when a precocious seven-year old charmer grows up and tracks down the lovely lady who used to live next door; Alexandra Lovelace is luminous as the woman in question, in Clayton Guiltner’s attentive and cleverly staging.
Kimberly Kalaja’s “Night Moths on the Wing,” one of two full-lengths presented in the festival, explores the meaning of war and probes into the psychology behind it. Like any good piece of live theatre, it doesn’t lay all its cards on the table; ultimately, it’s most concerned with what is worth fighting for, what’s worth living for and what’s worth dying for. Michael Serna directs with a solid grasp of the material, with strong performances by Jazi Davis, Jeffrey Rolle Jr. and John J. Pistone. (The festival, which also includes Lojo Simon’s “Love All,” runs through Aug. 28.)