By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Eric Nicholson
Written mostly by a group of graduates of Texas A&M-Commerce, the plays in Unseen should remain just that. Time After Time by Mike Klongpayabal presents a series of vignettes that show a troubled couple on their first date, on the night he proposes, on their fifth anniversary and then the night they break up. Clichés abound. I Shadow by Elizabeth Klongpayabal finds two young women primping in a restaurant bathroom, comparing dates and sizing up their chances. The prettier of the two (Meredith Morton) deflates her friend (K.B. Stewart) with criticisms, intentionally deep-sixing the other girl's confidence. Then Miss Know-It-All ducks into a stall to toss her dinner. Ah, the opening scene of a Lifetime Movie for Women.
Two of the plays pair characters with the personifications of their smack-talking inner voices, like living, breathing word balloons. Double dumb. Blind Faith by Leigh Wesley is a depressing Sunday-school skit about a woman's date-rape experience, complete with slides of satanic flames. Melissa Heath Lee's A Woman's Place depicts a bride being raped by her husband-to-be as her maid of honor looks on. That's a lot of fun. Following that is the goofy Dog Days, a rip-off of A.R. Gurney's Sylvia, which casts humans as talking dogs arf-arfing around with their master and mistress.
Besides the antediluvian attitudes toward gender roles, the plays in Unseen offer no writerly craftsmanship, no poetry, no humor, no anything. Of the four actors, only Meredith Morton appears to have a clue what should and shouldn't be done on a stage. The other three--Stewart, Lucas Roeschley, Dustin Sautter--are so wooden and dry, they should stand nearer the fire exits.