Exotic tease

Despite its rich elements and strong performances, Mata Hari doesn't quite hang together

The Playwrights Project is responsible for the affair, which had a nice pace and a humorous emcee in Chamblee Ferguson, a Spalding Gray look-alike with cue cards full of conceptual jokes.

I quite enjoyed almost every one of the eight plays written by local playwrights--especially the ones that kept to their time limit. Tangerines, written by Dain Dunston, has an Elmore Leonard, Mamet quality in its "I screw you, you screw me" zeitgeist. Enter Three Witches by Cliff Harville is a whimsical piece in which three contemporary, urbane witches plan the presidential future of "a congressman from Georgia." (Gwen Templeton shows off her comic ability and timing here.) And Harvest Moon by Molly Moynahan was a human respite from the more stylized and satirical works of the evening. Two lost souls--one a heroin addict, the other a mother of a baby who died of SIDS--find each other in a Buddhist monastery.

The actors did an impressive job with the material considering they had one rehearsal. Once again, Gwen Templeton was a standout in every role she played, as was Dennis Raveneau. Musicians Kimbute & the Freedom Tribe served up their new world reggae beat between plays--a nice touch that made the festival more, well, festive.

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